By Li Qian | 2012-7-28 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
A LARGE pet snake that drew a lot of attention after it was seen swimming in the lake of a park in Changzhou City of Jiangsu Province has been taken from its owner, who failed to obtain permission to raise the protected animal.
The five-year-old patteraless, a type of python, named Xiao Guaiguai or Little Sweetie, has been housed in the Yancheng Wild Zoo while its owner Tian Hui felt so distraught at the loss of his pet, nearly 3.43 meters long, that he has decided to leave the city.
Changzhou police and forestry authorities said Tian didn't have approval to raise the endangered specimen, which is under government protection. In fact, he may face charges, Modern Express newspaper reported yesterday.
"I didn't expect to make the headlines. I just took her to have a bath," Tian said.
He insisted that he didn't catch his pet in the wild.
Possessing such a protected species is a crime that can carry a jail term of more than 10 years, the Shanghai Wildlife Conservation Center said.
Li Daibing, a Changzhou animal expert, said the patteraless has evolved from python molurus, and is unable to survive in the wild. It shouldn't be categorized as a wild animal because it has been a popular pet in Europe and Japan and many snakes can live only under the care of humans, Li told the paper.
An Internet user who claimed to be an employee of the national animal museum backed Li up, suggesting the nation revise the rules to remove the patteraless from the wildlife list.
A pet shop owner surnamed Gu told the paper that a little patteraless could sell for 1,000 yuan (US$156.70) and a bigger one up to 2 meters is priced at 2,000 yuan. But Little Sweetie, at nearly 3.43 meters, is worth 100,000 yuan.
Tian said an entrepreneur wanted to buy the snake for 180,000 yuan, but he refused since Little Sweetie is his "relative."
"She loves chicken legs and needs 3 kilos per meal," he said.
The zoo took his advice and fed the snake with chicken legs instead of rats in order to have her accustomed in the new home as soon as possible, the paper said.
In June, pictures showing a palm-sized monkey sipping a soft drink with a straw was widely circulated online. It turned out to be a baby macaca, a precious species under national protection. It has been sent to a zoo in Nanjing.