COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Andrew Philson and his 3-year-old son will sleep a little on edge knowing that the alleged 15 to 20 foot long snake spotted in their backyard on Tuesday has remained elusive.
Philson got a call from his elderly neighbor about the reptilian nuisance and thought he'd be finding a small garter or black snake, but got the shock of his life when he saw the beast slithering up one of his trees.
RELATED: See photos of the giant snake.
"I looked over there and wow!" Philson said. "It was a revelation."
After the initial shock, Philson snapped several pictures of the massive snake behind his Devereaux St. home, which is near Kilbourne St and N. Beltline Blvd., and started calling around to see who could get rid of it.
So far, he's not had any luck, but, after looking at Philson's pictures, officials at the Department of Natural Resources say they're positive that it is a black rat snake.
Philson, however, believes it is some type of python. "I've seen a rat snake and they don't get that big," said Philson.
According to DNR, rat snakes are not poisonous and are considered to be beneficial to have around because they eat rats and rodents and keep other, more dangerous, snakes away. They are incredibly agile when it comes to climbing and can sometimes be found among the rafters of outbuildings, along rock walls, or in trees high above the ground.
Their climbing abilities allow them to ascend the trunks of mature trees, which they sometimes do in search of prey which includes birds and small mammals.
Some large black rat snakes can kill and eat a full grown squirrel.
The snake is still on the loose and Philson hopes that somebody will come and take it away. He's not ready to pay over $150 out of his pocket just to have a professional come out and look around, without a guarantee of the snake being captured.
DNR officers said they do not respond to remove rat snakes because of the benefit they offer to the environment.
"I think this is a public nuisance and I think people need to know in this area that there's a snake this big on the loose," said Philson. He does not want to see the snake be killed, he just doesn't want it around his home anymore.
Philson says his 3-year-old isn't allowed in the back yard until he is sure the snake is gone.
"He plays in the back yard a lot and they have children that come over, her grandchildren, and they play in the back yard a lot. And a snake that big could easily take out a child that size," Philson said.
If you are a professional or know a lot about snakes and would like to relocate the snake, please send WIS an email at email@example.com.