14 foot python escapes after Redding pet store is evacuated by Carr fire

- It's been an extra harrowing 24 hours for owners of a reptile pet store in Redding, after the Carr fire forced them to evacuate their business and then they realized their 14 foot long python escaped from her temporary enclosure.

On Thursday, with the area ravaged with fire, Redding Reptiles received word that the business had to evacuate from its Lake Boulevard location.

The owners scrambled to find a home for its 200 animals, including the 30 pets fire affected customers and residents had asked the business to help house.

Owner Sandra Dodge-Streich told KTVU folks including those at Tortoise Acres Rescue & Sanctuary in Anderson were kind enough to help take in some of the pet store's animals.

Dodge-Streich said they received a huge and generous helping hand from friends in Redding who took in her family, two other families as well as most of the animals from her pet store.

"The kindness of our friends, opened the door to all of us, all of us," an emotional Dodge-Streich said. 

The pet store owner said that on Sunday morning, her son went to move some of the cages, and that's when they made the shocking realization that Eres, a Lavender Albino Reticulated Python was gone.

Dodge-Streich noted that the fire and transporting of the animals have put the reptiles under an extreme amount of stress.

She said Eres must have used all of her might to get herself out of the temporary tub enclosure.

"She probably could smell the smoke," Dodge-Streich said, and she speculated the python escaped seeking cooler conditions.

Redding Reptiles instantly blasted out messages on social media, asking for help and began combing the neighborhood for the missing snake.

"Our 14' Lavender Albino Reticulated Python has escaped from her temporary enclosure... Please check your backyards in the his area and call us if you find her. Please don't try to catch her," the business wrote on its Facebook page.

"Eres is a beautiful, friendly snake. She is part of our store family and Reptile Exhibit. Please don't be afraid of her - she is lost and scared!" Redding Reptiles added.

The messages were circulated on Facebook and the pet store and volunteers conducted a thorough neighborhood search all day Sunday and into the night, with no luck.

Then on Monday morning, Dodge-Streich received word Eres may have been located and that someone was posting photos of the python on a community Facebook page. 

"Friends! We've heard rumors that someone found her," Redding Reptiles wrote asking for help. 

The community responded and Dodge-Streich said she and her team found the missing reptile not far from where the large snake escaped. 

"She was hiding in a milk crate on the patio of a neighbor's back yard... We had previously attempted to search the yard, but the owner refused to let us in. Thankfully his wife found the snake and called us immediately," Dodge-Streich wrote in an updated post.

Her message was also laden with words of gratitude amid the flames and destruction of the Carr fire which as of Monday has claimed at least six lives including those of two firefighters. More than 700 homes have been destroyed and thousands more are threatened.  

To Dodge-Streich, the recovery of Eres and the help she received from the friends who took her and her family in were a moving illustration of neighbors and residents coming together when they really needed each other. 

She wrote, "We are ever thankful to the community of Redding for helping us find her during this devastating time," with the hashtag #carrfire.

You can check Redding Reptile's website here for updates on how the fire is affecting the business and how to care for reptiles during fire conditions. 

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