Massive Snake Spotted in Pittsburgh Park Has Been Identified as 'Harmless Species'

"While not commonly seen in the park, this harmless species of snake is native to the area and very beneficial to the environment," Pittsburgh Animal Care & Control wrote in a statement

giant snake
Photo: Pittsburgh Public Safety/Twitter

Although a massive snake sighting may have given local Pittsburgh residents a scare this week, experts are assuring locals that the species is "harmless."

Pittsburgh Animal Care & Control officers first put out a public warning on Thursday morning after someone spotted a giant snake on a trail at Frick Park. An accompanying photo showed the long reptile off the ground and winding up a tree.

At the time of the spotting, officials could not identify what type of snake it was, which led to fears that it could be a dangerous snake species.

"We were initially concerned it may have been a boa constrictor or a python," Wendell Hissrich, a Pittsburgh public safety director, told WPXI-TV. "And like the alligators may have been transported to this area, become too large for a resident, and they let it go in the park."

Fortunately, although park officials haven't located the snake yet, experts determined that the reptile wasn't a danger to the public.

"The experts have spoken!" Pittsburgh Animal Care & Control wrote in a statement. "We thank the reptile specialists at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium for identifying the Frick Park snake as a Black Rat Snake."

"While not commonly seen in the park, this harmless species of snake is native to the area and very beneficial to the environment," they added. "We thank the public for their interest and for helping us identify this park visitor."

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As for just how big the snake is, zoo officials said that the black rat snake is "the largest species you'll find here in Pennsylvania."

"They are around more rural areas, but they're certainly capable of being in urban areas as well," Henry Kacprzyk, the curator of reptiles at Pittsburgh Zoo, told WPXI-TV.

"The worst they can do to a dog is deliver a bite," he continued, noting that the snake's bite is nonvenomous, and if a bite occurred, the treatment would be similar to other nonvenomous animal bites. "You'd wash it with soap and water and maybe put some triple antibiotic ointment on it and keep an eye on it. It's not really that dangerous."

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Once officials are able to find the large snake, they'll most likely remove it from the park both for its safety and for the comfort of others.

"We will probably remove the snake, remove it, and put it into a safer habitat," said Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Hissrich. "Somewhere within the city or the county that the public doesn't have to be worried about it and the snake can live its life."

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