A woman found unconscious with an 8ft python around her neck died from asphyxiation after being strangled by the snake, according to a post-mortem.
Laura Hurst, 36, was discovered on the floor of a “reptile home” in Oxford, Indiana, which contained about 140 snakes, including 20 owned by her, police said. Ms Hurst apparently kept her pets in the property and visited them twice a week.
The owner of the home reportedly found her body on Wednesday night with the reticulated 2.4-metre python wrapped loosely around her neck.
The owner called paramedics but they were unable to revive her. According to the local paper, Journal and Courier, the property is owned by Benton County Sheriff Don Munson and was set up specifically for a collection of snakes.
Mr Munson, who lives next door to the home, told the paper that Ms Hurst’s death was a “tragic accident with loss of human life”.He said he was “being fully co-operative with everybody”.
State police sergeant Kim Riley told CNN that Ms Hurst was “apparently there checking on her snakes”.
“For whatever reason, she apparently got the snake out and she was doing what people do with snakes.”
The python is non-venomous and one of the world’s largest snakes. It can grow to more than 20ft, according to the Indianapolis Zoo.
Indiana has specific laws regarding the possession of venomous snakes and reptiles.
But it was not immediately clear what, if any, permits were required to keep and breed non-venomous snakes, said Marty Benson, a spokesman for the Indiana department of natural resources.