A snake lover was found dead in his house after his 8-foot python allegedly wrapped itself around him, killing him by suffocation.
Dan Brandon, 31, an exotic animal lover was found dead on August 25, 2017, with his pet python named “Tiny” by his body.
His lifeless body was discovered by his mother, Babs, in his bedroom in Hampshire, with Tiny hiding close by.
According to Andrew Bradley, a coroner for north-east Hampshire, Dan died of asphyxia after his 2.4-metre African rock python, Tiny, wrapped itself in an affectionate way.
He said that the snake had not been aggressive towards Brandon at all, but was “instrumental” for his death.
Brandon is known as a responsible snake owner who loves his pets. In fact, along with Tiny, he also had 10 other snakes and 12 tarantulas.
Babs, Dan’s mother told the inquest that Tiny sometimes appeared aggressive. She said: “She would get cross and hiss and pretend to strike. He would say ‘For goodness’ sake, Tiny.’ At other times he would tell me ‘Mum, you’ve got to come and look, she’s being really good today.’ I don’t think he ever got bit by Tiny.
He did, however, know that the snake could be dangerous. “He was more wary of Tiny than the other snakes. He said she’s very strong. He had stopped putting her around his neck because she was so strong and unpredictable.”
Babs has been taking good care of Dan’s exotic pets since his death, she even showed the court the bite mark on her hand after one of the snakes bit her recently.
She also said that his son had snakes since he was 15 and when he got Tiny home, he could hold it in his hand. It was like his baby.
“She was his baby. She loved him,” she said, adding that if she was in her son’s bedroom with him the snake would strike at her “as if to say ‘leave him alone’.”
Babs told the court what had happened in the evening of her son’s death, she says that she was cooking dinner when she was interrupted by a crash in his bedroom. She found him face down on the floor and Tiny was missing from its vivarium. Even though the paramedics arrived, he could not be saved. She told the court that she had no idea how he had died.
A postmortem revealed that Brandon’s lungs were four times heavier than would be expected and he had suffered pinpoint hemorrhages in one of his eyes – signs of asphyxia. He also had a recently fractured rib.
According to pathologist Dr. Adnan al-Badri said that “It’s possible that some sort of pressure was applied to the neck or chest that caused him to asphyxiate.” However, there were no marks around his neck or chest.”
However, Prof John Cooper, a vet and snake keeper, said that he too did not believe that Tiny had strangled Brandon or had been aggressive toward him.
“The most likely scenario is that that Tiny was engaged with Dan. I have no doubt she was coiling around him. There was a point at which either she took hold of him unexpectedly or trips him up or there is some other mechanism. She then takes off maybe because of the shock of him falling or the shock of his reaction. I have to accept that Tiny is instrumental in Dan’s death”
“He was an experienced herpetologist who cared for his reptiles and would have had a good relationship with his animals. He did not have them for macho reasons,” he added.
Professor Cooper also said that Brandon probably knew how to unwrap a python that had coiled around him. He expressed that it was uncommon for snakes in captivity to cause serious injuries but told the court that he himself had been struck in the eye by an African rock python. He said Tiny had struck out at him “defensively” as he put it back in its vivarium after examining the snake.
Cooper believes that in one “moment of peace” Brandon was “communing” with the snake and it “went wrong” for some reason. “He is asphyxiated as a result of his contact with Tiny.”
Meanwhile, Babs was constantly plagued by her son’s sudden death saying, “All the family wanted was answers to our questions and I have no idea yet whether we have that or ever will.”
Brandon’s death was an unfortunate incident, though Tiny didn’t mean any harm, its still wild in nature.