PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) – The Paragould Animal Control Department says a local man filed a report that a large snake was living somewhere within the neighborhood. James Fields of Paragould, 429 E. Court Street, said Monday a "monstrous" snake has been feeding on stray cats in his neighborhood. He said a few weeks ago, stray cats lived and played in his back yard, but that's not the case these days.
"I got half way through the yard, there's a great big tunnel out there under the weeds. A tunnel that's this big around," said Fields, who said he's renting the house to own. Fields said the city told him to keep his grass maintained when he signed the housing agreement. He purchased a weed-eater to cut the grass.
"I looked up and I seen something coming across the grass. I could not see it but I could see the grass lying down as it was coming, just in a straight line like that tunnel," said Fields. "I'm not a man to panic. I don't panic and I'm not a man to fear anything in this evil ole world, except a snake and that had to be a snake."
Fields said the snake came from a nearby drainage ditch and when it was coming after him, he could see the high grass lay down where the snake trampled it.
"It was a snake head as big as my hand and I'm thinking that cannot be a snake. The closer I got to it, it was a snake," said Fields. "I killed the weed eater and I said no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no and I killed the weed eater and I come bailing toward the corner of the house here."
Fields said he contacted the Paragould Police Department and animal control. Allen Massey, Animal Control Officer, said he rarely gets reports of snake sightings.
"I get a lot of hearsay and a lot of that hearsay has come true, some of them don't so I got to take everything that I hear kind of serious to find out what's going on," said Massey. "If this is the size he's saying, 15 foot long, that's a pretty good sized snake. It can take a child."
According to Fields, the snake was roughly 15-feet long with a head the size of a grapefruit. It was brown in color with no distinguished markings.
Region 8 News contacted the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Monday. According to AGFC, any snake longer than six feet is not native to Arkansas. Officials with the office said they believe the snake was probably a Boa Constrictor someone let loose.
"They grab a hold and they'll wrap itself around you and constrict every time you take a breath, it constricts more and constricts more until you run plenty out of breath, you suffocate and then devours you," said Massey.
"I can't pinpoint what it is. There's too many domestic type snakes in the United States. A lot of people they get to where they can't afford to feed it because they're too big and so they let them loose," said Massey. "It's an aggressive snake. Once it sets its mind on what it wants to get, it's going to get it."
Massey said he found straight line paths in the grass where some type of animal was traveling. He said a Boa Constrictor has a certain movement pattern.
"We found some tracks where the grass was kind of laid over a little bit and we kind of searched around a little bit and some snakes, they'll tend to takes home of abandoned burrows of other animals," said Massey. "There aren't but two different snakes that I know of that produce those in a straight line and one of them is the boa constrictor."
AFGC said Monday some of the largest snakes in Arkansas are rattlesnakes, water snakes and rat snakes. He said anything over ten feet long is usually exotic.
"I'm talking about a gigantic, a monster snake," said Fields.