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Sue Jacobsen, Chris Ellberg, Marisha Maier, and Trina Funfsinn, all of Illinois Valley Animal Rescue, watch Sunday as a member of the Chicago Herpetological Society holds a red-tailed boa constrictor rescued from a house in Oglesby. The snake had been left behind when the home’s tenants moved out and was in advanced stages of starvation.
Chris Ellberg is used to helping find homes for abandoned pets, but she found herself dealing with a unique animal experience this weekend. Ellberg, president of Illinois Valley Animal Rescue, received a call last week from an Oglesby landlord in need of help with a sizeable reptilian problem. The landlord had recently evicted tenants from a home, but found that when they left their 6-foot-long red-tailed boa constrictor stayed put. While it’s all too common for people to abandon pets when moving, Ellberg said this was the first boa she’s had to help. “I started making all kinds of calls,” she said. After speaking with local animal control and various Illinois Department of Natural Resources employees, Ellberg connected with the Chicago Herpetological Society, which sent a representative to Oglesby on Sunday to collect the roughly 16-year-old snake. “It will go directly into a foster home of one of their members,” Ellberg said. Prior to finding help from CHS, Ellberg said she received some local interest from people who offered to adopt the abandoned snake through IVAR’s Facebook page, but Ellberg, who doesn’t know much about snakes herself, wasn’t comfortable giving the snake to just anyone. “You want to make sure those people are experienced,” Ellberg said. She said her contact at CHS explained to her that while it may only take a couple hours of conversation with someone to know whether they really know how to care for a cat or dog, it can take days to be certain they really understand snakes. “This was a case for the professionals,” Ellberg said. Popular in the pet-trade, a red-tailed boa’s natural habitat is in tropical South America, according to the St. Louis Zoo’s website. The snake’s primary meal is mice and rats. “Like other boa constrictors, this snake kills its prey by squeezing it with its powerful coils until the victim can no longer breathe. Then it swallows its meal whole, head-first. After eating a large animal, the boa doesn’t need to eat again for a long time, and may rests [sic] for weeks,” according to the zoo website.
Adopt-a-Thon In other IVAR news, the local group's Independence Day Adopt-a-Thon will be from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, June 29 at the IVAR shelter on Civic Road in La Salle. There will be reduced adoption fees during the event as well as raffle prizes, goodie bags, door prizes and free Fourth of July hot dogs. People interested in adopting pets can be pre-approved through IVAR’s website, www.illinoisvalleyanimalrescue.org.
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