When a call came in about a large python in the backyard of a South Miami-Dade home, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Lt. Scott Mullin expected to find a full-grown snake that could potentially be a challenge for him.
Instead, what Mullin found in the yard of the home in the 15000 block of Southwest 25th Terrace was a baby ball python that was no more than 14 inches long.
And adding to his confusion about the “frantic” call Sunday morning: The snake had its mouth sewn shut.
“I had never seen anything like it before,” said Mullin, who is a member of Miami-Dade County’s Venom One unit.
Mullin, who said the family had no clue how the serpent got there, took the snake to a local reptile rescue group. Mullin assisted the rescuer in removing the thread from the snake’s mouth.
“It could have been there for a month,” said Mullin. “It was really in bad shape. It’s horrible.”
Because the snake’s mouth was shut for so long, it had gotten a fungal infection. Mullin said the rescue group is working with a vet to rehabilitate the snake.
Meanwhile, Mullin turned to Facebook to see if anyone knew why a snake would have its mouth sewn shut. His post was shared almost 5,000 times, with many calling the snake’s treatment animal cruelty.
Some suggested the act could have been related to Vodou or Santeria.
Nelson Hernandez, the owner of a botanica and pet shop, Viejo Lazaro in Flagami, said the practice of sewing a python’s mouth shut is closely related to a dark sect of Vodou and a desire to put a curse on someone.
The snake, which some religions consider most related to the devil because of the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, is often the animal of choice for dark magic.
Vodou practitioners will write a person’s name on a piece of paper, gather other items related to that person and insert them into the snake and sew its mouth shut. Mullin said nothing was found in the snake, but it’s possible they could have disintegrated.
“It creates a state of agony in the animal,” Hernandez said. “It’s so that the human (who is being cursed) feels dragged, agonized, desperate.
“It’s very dark witchcraft.”