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Snake Experts Have Doubts That Python Killed British Snake Keeper

January 25, 2018



Daniel Brandon of Basingstoke, Hampshire, England died of asphyxiation in August 2017 from what the coroner described "as a result of contact" with Brandon’s 8-foot African rock python (Python sebae) named Tiny.

Now, the coroner’s findings are being questioned.

"I frankly don't see how the snake could have been responsible due to its size,” Chris Newman, chairman of the Federation of British Herpetologists said in an interview with the BBC.

Newman, who said he was wary with regard to the findings, said that Brandon’s death should not be used to raise safety concerns with regard to keeping snakes.


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"Any animal has the potential to be dangerous - the question is was this snake responsible and I think the answer to that is 'no'," Newman told the BBC. “This is the first death or serious injury in the last 100 years of snake keeping and there really isn't the evidence to show the snake was directly involved in this case," Newman said.

Brandon was an experienced snake keeper, having kept them for 16 years. He was found in his bedroom unconscious, and Tiny was found under a cabinet.

Coroner Andrew Bradley told the BBC that he had no doubt that Tiny had killed Brandon.

"She was coiling around him, at which point I have no idea. There was a point at which either she takes hold of him unexpectedly or trips him up or some other mechanism,” Bradley told the BBC. He then said the snake hid under the cabinet  "because of the shock of him falling or because of his reaction.”

Prof. John Cooper, a reptile expert who examined the snake told the BBC that Brandon "would have known how to unwrap a python.” Cooper also examined the python’s shed later in the month and said if the snake had coiled around Brandon, there would have been marks visible on the skin caused by Brandon trying to remove the snake.

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