Workers at a sorting facility for Goodwill, a chain of American charity shops, in the US city of Fort Worth, Texas were stunned to discover a live, albino red-tailed boa constrictor mixed in with donations on Thursday, NBC New York reported this week.
NBC wrote that this particular reptile friend was found in a pile of clothing and could have come from any of Goodwill’s 38 donation centres in the Fort Worth region, with assistant manager James Murphy saying it had to have passed “multiple steps” before it arrived at the facility:
“I just don’t know what the context is of how this snake got to us,” said Goodwill assistant manager James Murphy. “There are multiple steps this snake had to take to get here.”
“I don’t know if someone may have [dropped it off] maliciously,” Murphy said. “Maybe they wanted to get rid of it and weren’t quite sure how, or maybe it just wanted to get warm. It was in a pile of clothing.”
Boa constrictors are not native to the Texas region but do pose a risk of becoming an invasive species there in the future. They are not poisonous, but do tend to be on the larger side of the snake spectrum (though the red-tailed boa is more modestly sized than the most massive snakes). Boa constrictors hunt by squeezing prey until they lose consciousness from lack of oxygen to the brain.
While boa constrictors can pose a threat to human life when mishandled, NBC reported Murphy fortunately had prior experience with large snakes and was able to safely remove it from the bin of donated clothes in which it was found.
As it turns out, the snake is named Toki, and Goodwill staff were able to reunite it with its original owner, 22-year-old Austin Pair of Keller, Texas, the Star-Telegram reported. According to the paper, Pair said he had left the snake well-fed and unattended in an aquarium during a trip but returned to find it missing. After an extensive search, he believed the snake had escaped permanently—until a friend alerted him to media reports of its recent discovery.
“I had to kind of makeshift a lid for it,” Pair told the Star-Telegram. “He’d gotten out before, so I’d taped it, reinforced it, put weights on it—but he pushed the light fixture over and disappeared.”
Pair added that Toki had been missing for months, and that his best guess was that it had taken up residence in a sofa he later donated to Goodwill. He also told the Star-Telegram that Toki is home and safe, this time in a habitat designed to be much more escape-proof. [NBC New York/Star-Telegram]