A roughly 3.5 meter-long pet python that managed to break free from an apartment in Yokohama earlier this month was found coiled up in the room's attic and caught alive Saturday, after more than two weeks of an intense search involving hundreds of police, firefighters and reptile experts.
The reticulated python, a species considered one of the world's largest snakes, is not venomous but constricts and suffocates its prey. It was found by reptile specialists in the attic at around 4:45 p.m.
The owner of the python notified police on May 6 after returning to his second-floor room in Yokohama, near Tokyo, and discovering that his pet snake was not in its enclosure.
"I'm relieved," said the owner in his 20s, who has taken days off from work to join the search. "I'm sorry for having caused inconvenience to neighbors."
The owner said the snake will be no longer his and will be managed by the Yokohama city authorities.
The police and firefighters had searched around the apartment every day since it went missing, even employing some special equipment such as a fiberscope to look into wooded areas and gutters as well as a device to detect heat. But they failed to find any trace of the animal and police stopped their search on Friday.
The Japan Reptiles and Amphibians Association had also joined the search at the request from the owner. It tried to lure the snake by installing cases containing dead rats, before removing them a few days later as the baits spoiled.
As there was no witness information, the association turned to the possibility the snake had remained inside the apartment and conducted an intensive search in the attic on Saturday.
The snake, when it was captured, was coiled up on a steel frame, the association said. Although it was "calm," it took two adults to pull the animal off from the frame, it said.
The report of the python's discovery gave a sense to relief to neighbors, who had complained of being unable to let their children play outdoors for two weeks.
"The owner should have had a stronger sense of responsibility," said a 35-year-old woman who lives nearby.
Owners in Japan must obtain permission from their local authorities to keep reticulated pythons. He had obtained such permission from the municipal government of Yokohama.
The owner has told Kyodo News the enclosure was not properly locked at the time of the python's escape.