Is Wessie Back? Large piece of snake skin found near Maine river.
Westbrook police said a large snakeskin was found Saturday near a boat launch in Riverbank Park along the Presumpscot River, suggesting that a large snake first spotted nearly two months ago has stayed in the area.
Riverbank Park is where two police officers reported in late June that they saw a snake, estimated at 10 feet long, eating a mammal, possibly a beaver. The officers watched the snake swim across the river after its meal and slither into underbrush on the far side.
That sighting set off a flurry of would-be snake spotters looking for the reptile, which was soon dubbed “Wessie” by residents. It even inspired a Twitter feed by “Wessie P. Thon,” in which the author was reported to be hanging out in Westbrook, commenting on the weather and the frenzy after the sighting.
Officials speculated that it was a pet snake that escaped or was released by its owner.
The latest buzz came after a resident reported finding the shed snakeskin Saturday afternoon. Police photographed, collected and tagged the skin and said samples will be tested to determine what type of snake shed the skin and whether it poses a risk to the public.
Until that’s determined, police said, residents along the river should be alert and stay away from any large snakes, a warning that probably did not need to be issued.
Police asked residents to report any snake sightings.
In June, Derek Yorks, a wildlife biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said the snake was probably a Burmese python, which is native to Asia but has been breeding in the Florida Everglades.
Yorks said he’s certain the snake is not native to Maine.
“None of ours are big enough to prey on something even as big as a squirrel,” he said. Maine’s biggest native snakes, he said, include water snakes, which grow to about 4 feet, and the endangered black racer, which can grow up to 5 feet long.
A python, he said, would by unlikely to survive a Maine winter.
Bertha R. Massie