Dusty Webb, a professional snake handler who has worked on various films, said he had never lost a snake prior to the escape last week from his south-central Santa Fe home of an eight-foot Burmese python.
The snake made news when it was later found clinging to the motor of a Santa Fe woman’s stalled pickup.
“My business is to protect critters and people,” Webb said. “I had never lost an animal. It just makes me sick.”
Webb’s python, Eve, apparently had something to do with the fact that the truck driven by Stephanie Ellis suddenly quit running on Zia Road on Thursday.
Jackson Ault, a friendly passerby who offered to help Ellis, popped open the hood and found the writhing mass of brown and yellow scales in the engine compartment.
Police took the critter to the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society while officers tried to find the owner. Ben Swan, a humane society spokesman, said the snake had suffered minor injuries but was OK.
Webb, who has worked on productions such as Breaking Bad and A Million Ways to Die in the West, heard the news about the discovery of a python in Santa Fe while he was working in Albuquerque with his other python, Adam. But he thought there was no it could have been his.
Webb said he had acquired Eve, who has been in a few photo shoots, and Adam about six weeks ago. He had been storing Eve in an older cage and used a heavy table and some wire to secure an opening.
“I figured she couldn’t get out,” Webb said.
But the python, he said, proved him wrong. The reptile apparently stood on her tail and pushed away the table, then slithered out of Webb’s home through a dog door. Webb said he believed the snake probably escaped Wednesday night.
Webb said he lives within a mile of Zia Road and Camino Carlos Rey, the area where police believe the snake crawled into Ellis’ truck. He said he got calls all of Friday from people telling him a snake had made the news. But he wasn’t able to claim his python until Monday.
He said animal control officers planned to visit his home Tuesday morning to ensure the facilities for his lizards and other creatures are up to standard. He added that he already had fixed Eve’s cage, saying, “Superman couldn’t get into this thing now.”
Webb described Eve as timid and incapable of hurting humans or any animal much larger than a rat.
“These are gentle giants,” he said. “This snake is going to be a movie star.”
Webb implored others not to injure snakes and offered to relocate any and all unwanted snakes. He said he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: an earlier version of this article repeats the word "was" in the second paragraph.
Contact Chris Quintana at 986-3093 or email@example.com.