Move over, Central Park's “hot duck" and Chicago's (ex) resident alligator, Chance the Snapper, there's another wayward (or, well not so wayward) wild animal that has found itself the star of a local park. In a rare sighting that definitely does not sound like an innuendo in any way, shape, or form, a massive snake was sighted slithering around in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania's Frick Park, leaving visitors and experts alike shocked and terrified at its, erm, impressive length.
First spotted last week sitting in a tree (t-e-r-r-i-f-y-i-n-g), the snake's large, slithering presence singlehandedly -- or well, zero-handedly -- launched an entire city-wide panic and a search for the unwieldy reptile. “Pittsburgh Animal Care & Control was notified by a park user of a large snake spotted on a Frick Park trail,” read an incident report, archived on the city's website. “Animal Care & Control officers, along with Pittsburgh Park Rangers, are busy searching the area where the snake was possibly last seen. Zone 4 police officers are also on the lookout. A witness stated the snake did not appear to be a native species. It is not yet verified as to what type of snake it is. Public Safety is warning the public, if you come across a large snake you are not familiar with, stay way and immediately notify police.”
Shortly after the warning was issued, proving that the age-old concept of stranger danger also applies to snakes, authorities were ultimately able to identify the reptile. To the relief of pretty much everyone, it seems the snake, albeit absolutely massive, was not as dangerous as initially anticipated. "We were initially concerned it may have been a boa constrictor or a python," one of Pittsburg's public safety directors, Wendell Hissrich, explained to local news outlet, 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."
Upon further investigation into this massive snake slithering through the Frick premises, an apparent joint effort between reptile specialists at the PPG Aquarium and the Pittsburgh Zoo, the answer is none other than a Black Rat Snake. Defined as “large non-venomous snakes between 3.5 and 7 feet,” that are “actually very shy,” according to the National Wildlife Federation, these reptiles, although making for an alarming sight, is no stranger to the Frick. “While not commonly seen in the park, this harmless species of snake is native to the area and very beneficial to the environment,” the City of Pittsburgh wrote on their website. “We thank the public for their interest and for helping us identify this park visitor.”