Dan Brandon loved his 8-foot pet python Tiny and, fatally, the feeling was apparently mutual. Brandon, 31, was found dead in his home in Basingstoke, England, last August, and a coroner's inquest has concluded that he was asphyxiated by the African rock python, one of 10 snakes and a dozen tarantulas he kept in his bedroom, the BBC reports. His mother, Babs Brandon, testified that after she heard a crash from his room, she found her son unconscious. The female python was hiding nearby. The mother—who has kept all her son's animals, including Tiny—said Dan had been caring for the python since it was small enough to fit in his hand, though he'd become wary of it and stopped putting it around his neck because it was so "strong and unpredictable."
Tiny was "temperamental," but "she was his baby and she loved him," the mother told the inquest, per the New Zealand Herald. A snake expert testified Brandon was an experienced and responsible owner who cared for his snakes properly and would have known that if you are attacked by a python, the trick is to start unwrapping it at the tail, the Guardian notes. The coroner said Tiny was "instrumental" in Dan's death—but there were no marks around his neck, and it appears he may have tripped when the snake was coiled around him. "I do not believe in any way it was aggression from Tiny nor a confrontation; if anything it was a show of affection, a moment of peace," he said, per the Herald. "There was no aggression, this was an affectionate relationship." The verdict was death by misadventure. (In 2013, an escaped python killed two young brothers in Canada.)