For nearly two months, a slippery fugitive has evaded capture in the Polish countryside. Nicknamed Bertha, she followed a serpentine path to escape her seekers’ best efforts.
You might say that she slithered right through her would-be captors’ hands.
Bertha is a rogue Indian python (Python molurus molurus), though few of those looking for her have actually seen her. Animal Rescue Poland (ARP) received reports on July 7 of shed snakeskin found near the Vistula River south of Warsaw that measured nearly 7 feet (2 meters). When ARP investigated the high grass closer to the river, they found a second piece of molted skin measuring about 16 feet (5 m), suggesting that the snake could be as long as 20 feet (6 m) from nose to tail tip, according to an ARP blog post.
ARP identified the snake as an Indian python — a species that is not native to Poland — describing it as an adult female that may have been released into the wild by an irresponsible breeder, ARP representatives wrote on Facebook. Having just molted, the snake was likely to be hungry and aggressive, and people should avoid walking or sleeping near the river while the snake search is underway, ARP warned.
On July 10, ARP shared a photo on Facebook showing a sinuous snake track in the mud, hinting at Bertha’s passage, though the snake herself remained at large.
Since then, the ongoing quest for the elusive snake has captured the attention of people across Poland. Teams of experts combing the riverbanks include herpetologists, drone-deploying fire-brigade cadets, police officers and a drug-sniffing dog with the unlikely name of Cocaine, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported yesterday (Aug. 28).
A team of 80 people using four boats and four drones has been probing the area, capturing more than 2,000 photos that biologists are analyzing for clues about Bertha’s whereabouts, according to the New Zealand Herald.