Brit snake handler dies after lethal hug from his 8ft long 'baby' python Tiny
Snake handler, Dan Brandon, was found dead on August 25, 2017 with his pet python by his body. The cause has been mentioned as suffocated to death.
In an unfortunate incident, an exotic animal lover was found dead after his pet python wrapped itself around him. Dan Brandon, 31 died of asphyxia after his 2.4-metre (8ft) pet African rock python called Tiny wrapped itself around him, a coroner has ruled.
He was found dead by his mother, Babs, in his bedroom in Hampshire, with Tiny hiding close by. The coroner for north-east Hampshire, Andrew Bradley, recorded a verdict of misadventure, saying he believed the python was “instrumental” in Brandon’s death. He was quite clear that the snake had not been aggressive towards its owner at all, but the most likely had been coiling around him in an affectionate way.
Brandon was reportedly a responsible snake owner who loved his pets. Along with Tiny, Brandon had 10 other snakes and 12 tarantulas. His mother told the inquest that Tiny sometimes appeared aggressive. She said “She would get cross and hiss and pretend to strike. He would say ‘For goodness’ sake, Tiny.’ At other times he would tell me ‘Mum, you’ve got to come and look, she’s being really good today.’ I don’t think he ever got bit by Tiny."
He did, however, know that the snake could be dangerous. “He was more wary of Tiny than the other snakes. He said she’s very strong. He had stopped putting her around his neck because she was so strong and unpredictable.”
Since Brandon's death, Bab has been caring for his exotic animals. She showed the court a hand injury she had recently suffered when another of the snakes bit her. She also revealed that Brandon had had snakes since he was 15 and when Brandon had got Tiny home, he could hold it in his hand. It was like his baby. “She was his baby. She loved him,” she said, adding that if she was in her son’s bedroom with him the snake would strike at her “as if to say ‘leave him alone’.”
Babs narrated the story of the evening of her son’s death to court, saying that she was cooking dinner when she was interrupted by a crash in his bedroom. She found him face down on the floor and Tiny was missing from its vivarium. Even though the paramedics arrived, he could not be saved. She told the court that she had no idea how he had died.
A postmortem revealed that Brandon’s lungs were four times heavier than would be expected and he had suffered pinpoint hemorrhages in one of his eyes – signs of asphyxia. He also had a recently fractured rib. Pathologist Dr. Adnan al-Badri said that"It’s possible that some sort of pressure was applied to the neck or chest that caused him to asphyxiate.” However, there were no marks around his neck or chest."
Prof John Cooper, a vet and snake keeper, said that he too did not believe that Tiny had strangled Brandon or had been aggressive toward him. "The most likely scenario is that that Tiny was engaged with Dan. I have no doubt she was coiling around him. There was a point at which either she took hold of him unexpectedly or trips him up or there is some other mechanism. She then takes off maybe because of the shock of him falling or the shock of his reaction. I have to accept that Tiny is instrumental in Dan’s death"
He also said that Brandon knew what he was doing with his animals. “He was an experienced herpetologist who cared for his reptiles and would have had a good relationship with his animals. He did not have them for macho reasons.”
Cooper said Brandon would have known how to unwrap a python that had coiled around him, explaining that the trick was to start with the tail. He said it was uncommon for snakes in captivity to cause serious injuries but told the court that he himself had been struck in the eye by an African rock python. He said Tiny had struck out at him “defensively” as he put it back in its vivarium after examining the snake.
He said he believed that in one “moment of peace” Brandon was “communing” with the snake and it “went wrong” for some reason. “He is asphyxiated as a result of his contact with Tiny.”
Outside court, Babs Brandon was constantly plagued by her son's sudden death. She said, “All the family wanted was answers to our questions and I have no idea yet whether we have that or ever will.”
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