A Las Vegas woman reportedly agreed to babysit a friend’s pet python. She brought the 18-foot snake into her house, where her three-year-old son also lived. Bad move, for many reasons. At one point, the woman returned from the bathroom to find the snake wrapped around her son, who was turning blue. The mother stabbed the snake 17 times before it released the child.

Large snakes can be dangerous, particularly to young children. Without proper (escape proof) enclosures and people who know how to handle them (and some common sense), there is a real risk of injury or death, as was clearly demonstrated here. Also, reptiles of all kinds (including snakes) are prime sources of Salmonella infection. Allowing reptiles to roam the house and/or have direct or indirect contact with young children is an unnecessary risk. Various groups have stated that reptiles are not appropriate pets for children less than five years of age, nor for people with weakened immune systems, primarily because of the risks of Salmonella.

Hopefully the child in this terrifying case is alright, although he was also bitten, which can lead to complications of its own. The snake had to be euthanized because of the stab wounds. So, we have an injured child and a dead snake resulting from the stupidity of a couple of adults who didn’t apparently see a problem with leaving a large predatory carnivore free in the same location as a prey-sized child. Authorities are still deciding whether to charge the mother with child endangerment.