Python Doused with Water Releases Arm of Iowa Man

Aug. 09--CEDAR FALLS -- Information to be filed under "just in case": Water can release a python's deadly squeeze, although vodka works better.

A pair of Cedar Falls siblings learned this the painful way Saturday after a 2-year-old ball python named "Simba" latched on to Michael Harper's arm and wouldn't let go.

"I think he smelled blood from the other snake, and he thought Michael was food," said Harper's sister, Katie Nielsen.

Nielsen received 2-foot-long Simba and a 3-year-old python named "Sasha" three days earlier from a co-worker who no longer had time for the reptiles.

On Saturday afternoon, Harper was putting Simba in a box to feed him when the python coiled around Harper's and began biting him.

"He turned around and bit Michael's hands, and then every time Michael would move, he would grow stronger, he would constrict more," Nielsen said.

Paramedics and police were called to their West Ridgeway Avenue mobile home, but it was Cedar Falls firefighters back at the station who came up with the water solution after searching the Internet.

"It's something you don't see every day," said Firefighter Rick Sharp. "It was a combination effort. We had a couple of us looking, and we just compared answers. ... One of the firefighters called the medics on their cell phone."

The water trick worked.

"It lowered his body temperature," Nielsen said. "He released because he felt like he was drowning, and once they got him in the sink, he let go. We put him in his cage so he could calm down."

Nielsen said vodka had also been suggested, but there was no alcohol in the house. Placing vodka near a snake's nostrils also causes it to let go, she said.

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