A firefighter put his reptile-handling experience to good use when he rescued a 6-foot-long python from a burning home in western Michigan last night. Muskegon firefighter Scott Hemmelsbach told the Muskegon Chronicle that he reluctantly agreed to enter the two-story, smoke-filled house to retrieve the snake. He says he cradled the "weighty" snake before carrying it to safety. "It was trying to crawl up the side of his terrarium," Hemmelsbach said. "His face was pushed up on the screen and trying to get out. There was a lot of smoke and he was trapped."
The firefighter said he learned how to handle snakes while he was in high school, where he helped showcase them. "I'd take them around and show them to the kids in the elementary classes," he said. When Hemmelsbach reached the python inside the home, he gingerly handled him so not to scare the reptile. "I removed the screen off the top and knew to approach it by coming up behind his head. He became very active, and I was glad because that meant that he was OK." The fire significantly damaged the home, and the cause is under investigation. "I would do it for any creature," Hemmelsbach said. "I'm just glad it had a happy ending." (Click to read about another unusual animal rescue.)