“He thought it was feeding day:” Store owner released from hospital after snake mistakes his arm for prey

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio man police had to rescue from the grips of a 20-foot python is out of the hospital — and talking about his experience.

Even after 50 years caring for snakes, there’s a first time for everything.

Terry Wilkins’ 20-foot python thought his arm was prey!

“He thought it was feeding day and he reached out and grabbed my elbow and that’s where the fun began,” Wilkins said.

Wilkins, a store owner, says he asked Melissa McElfresh, a customer, to get some hot water. She poured it on the snake’s head — trying to release the python’s grip. Then, she went outside and called 911.

“It was like watching a horror movie,” McElfresh said.

Wilkins says he ran to stop McElfresh from calling 911.

“That’s when I slipped on the hot water that I spilled on the floor and slipped and hit my head,” Wilkins said. “Before I blacked out, the snake was pretty much all the way off of me and it never had me wrapped around the neck, never bit me in the face. You’d see it if it did.”

Newport Police Lt. Greg Rapberger and Sgt. Daron Arnberg wasted no time — and got to work uncurling the snake from Wilkins’ unconscious body.

“Once we got the snake off his head, you could see him move around a little bit,” Sgt. Arnberg said.

“They did a great job, and I’m happy with them for what they did. They put the snake back in the cage,” Wilkins said.

While terrifying to some, Wilkins says it was just another day on the job.

“I’m fine. The snake is fine. Everything turned out great,” Wilkins said.

Wilkins has 24 stitches from the snake bite on his arm.