Officers with the city of Santa Fe’s Animal Services Division say a 7-foot-long Dumeril’s boa was found Thursday, about a week after it was reported missing from a home and police had issued a warning to nearby residents to keep their pets indoors.
But the snake, named Tom the Boa, probably never left the house.
Animal Services supervisorJohnny Martinez said Tom was found in “very good condition” inside a cabinet in the home, in the 700 block of Columbia Street, where officers had noticed his disappearance following the death of his owner.
Police said Randi Finlayson, a former employee of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society who ran a reptile rescue center out of her house, near St. Francis Drive and Alta Vista Street, died May 26 from natural causes. She was 53, according to information on her Facebook page. Officers responded to a call about her death around 3 p.m.
Finlayson’s social media pages said Randi’s Reptile Rescue had an array of reptiles. Animal Services officers removed about 40 animals from her home, including snakes, geckos, turtles, bearded water dragons and chameleons, and took them to the animal shelter. But the officers noticed that one tank was empty. They feared Tom the Boa was at large.
Santa Fe police warned residents who lived near Finlayson’s home to be on the lookout for the snake.
Dumeril’s boas are medium-sized snakes, police said, with a stocky build and a calm temperament. They grow as long as 9 feet and have an average life span of 20 years.
And they’ve been known to feed on small mammals.
“Residents who live near Columbia Street should keep their small dogs and cats contained until the snake is located,” said Greg Gurulé, a spokesman for the Santa Fe Police Department. “Residents should be aware that the snake could be at ground level under shrubbery or could make its way up posts or trees.”
On Thursday, friends of Finlayson discovered the snake’s hiding place.
“Some friends were doing some maintenance at the residence and they encountered Tom,” Martinez said. “Maybe it will ease the neighbors’ [concerns], knowing he is accounted for.”
Ben Swan, a spokesman for the Santa Fe animal shelter, wasn’t surprised that Tom was found safe in the home. “Snakes are really good about hiding,” he said. “We’ve had stories of people who can’t find their snake for days and later find it under a mattress or in a closet.”
Swan said he was relieved to hear the snake had been found. “We’re really happy because it was a huge snake,” he said. “If it were hungry, it could get small animals.”
So far, Swan said, 10 of the 40 reptiles from Randi’s Rescue have been adopted, and even Tom has a permanent new home lined up with one of Finlayson’s friends.
In a news release, the shelter asked for donations to help properly care for the reptiles, such as heat lamps and large aquariums. “Financial donations are always helpful to offset the unexpected costs of feeding and caring for the large number of animals that have specific diets and needs,” Dr. Jennifer Steketee, the shelter’s executive director, said in the release.
Swan said Finlayson “was a a wonderful person who had a deep love for animals. … Her heart was with reptiles. They require special treatment and maintenance.”
Even after she no longer worked at the shelter, Swan said, Finlayson would take on reptiles that the shelter couldn’t place in other permanent homes. She also provided education about reptiles in the community — at libraries, the shelter’s summer Critter Camp for kids and other venues — so people could learn how to properly care for the delicate creatures, some of which require live feedings and special habitats, including warm temperatures.
“She really filled a hole in the community for those exotic animals,” Swan said, ensuring owners knew “the right care and maintenance for them to thrive.”
Contact Uriel Garcia at 505-986-3062 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ujohnnyg.