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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Watch out for Wessie, The Giant Snake of Westbrook

Making the rounds on the news sites are sightings of a giant snake, nicknamed "Wessie" (or, if you prefer, the "Presumpscot Python"), around Westbrook, Maine.

Is a giant snake slithering around Westbrook?
I first heard of the sightings when I saw something about them on Loren Coleman's CryptoZooNews this morning.

Apparently sightings began June 23rd, when a woman said she saw the snake. WMTW 8 reports:

"WESTBROOK, MAINE - Westbrook police are looking into a report of a large snake at Riverbank Park.
"A woman told police she saw the snake near the playground on both the Main Street and Brown Street side of the Presumpscot River.
"She told police the snake was as long as a truck with a head the size of a small ball. Police initially released the information on the department's Facebook page, describing the snake as 'very large.'
"Police do not believe the report is a hoax.
"'What makes it credible is a person actually came up, identified themselves and described what they saw,' police Chief Janine Roberts said.
"Animal Control officers checked the area but did not find the animal. Officers were expected to continue their search Friday, Roberts said.
"Police assume the snake was abandoned because snakes of that size are not indigenous to Maine.
"Rob Christian, president of the Maine Herpetological Society, said the report is likely real, but the description many have been exaggerated.
"'It's very likely blown out of proprotion,' Christian said.
"Christian believes the animal in question was actually a northern water snake, which is common in southern Maine.
"'This is a good habitat for northern water snakes,' Christian said. 'Pet snakes wouldn't look for this type of habitat. Even if someone dumped it in this area it wouldn't go toward the water.'
"While not the length of a truck, the northern water snake can grow up to 5 feet long and it prefers slow-moving water, Christian said.
"Even with the possibility that the snake is not as big as reported, Mainers who were at the playground Thursday afternoon wanted to leave finding the snake to the professionals.
"'I saw a snake at my grammy and grampy's in Florida, and it was a boa constrictor,' Mariella Caiazzo said.
"'It's concerning,' Kathryn Caiazzo said. 'We're at the playground and hopefully it's going to be caught soon.'
"Police said anyone who sees the snake should call them and not try to capture it themselves." 
Is "Wessie" a northern water snake, like this one?

On June 24, another witness reported a snake sighting. Devin Sanders says that he saw it coiled up on some rocks near the railroad bridge in Westbrook. He said:

"I saw the snake on the rocks. Just all black. Coiled up. Probably as long as a bench."

"As long as a bench" is not "as long as a truck," but would still make for a pretty large snake. reported on June 29 that a police officer spotted the snake eating a beaver by the Prescupscot River, at 3:30 a.m.. The article says that the snake was "the size of a car in length." A second police officer arrived before the snake swam across the river and disappeared.

Police said on the 29th that they expected the snake to lay dormant for a while since it had had a big meal. Westbrook residents, however, were still worried because the river where the snake was seen is "popular for children to swim and feet ducks."

As of right now, Wessie has not been caught, but she now has a song written about her, and a Twitter page as well. 

If there is any more about the snake sightings in the future, I'll update things.


As a side note, more on giant (and out-of-place) snakes can be found in my book Cryptid U.S.: Tales of Bigfoot, Lake Monsters, and More from Across America, which can be bought right here.

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