AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Monday, the Austin Animal Center got a call from a concerned Coronado Hills resident about a 16-foot-long albino python they had captured roaming around their neighborhood. 

In an Instagram post by the Austin Animal Center, it wrote the Coronado Hills couple had spotted the snake multiple times since July. With the colder weather, the snake’s energy levels reduced enough for the couple to capture it and call the agency.

There are a total of 76 native snake species slithering around the Lone Star State, but pythons are not one of them. So how did this snake end up in a north Austin neighborhood? 

According to AAC’s Instagram post, a Dallas man, Daryl Fields, was visiting Austin and brought his 16-foot serpentine companion, Snow.

Fields has a hobby of collecting exotic snakes and had a number of them with him during his visit to Austin where his brother lives. He said he was taking a nap when his brother asked why the door to his van, containing all of the snakes, was open.

“My window was busted and my van door (was open). I use a van to transport my snakes… I thought the snake was stolen,” Fields told KXAN.

After taking a look around, he found Snow’s container flipped over.

He deduced someone must have stolen the container and “let it loose, freaked out and panicked, realizing there was a snake inside,” Fields continued.

Fields said he and his friends combed the area trying to find Snow with no luck. He posted an ad, hoping for the best but expecting the worst. There was also another, smaller python lost in the incident that has not been recovered.

“We tried everything we could to find out we just honestly thought she was dead because it’s so cold,” Fields said.

After some investigation work at the AAC, however, a staff member remembered the post about a missing snake around the first time the creature was spotted by her eventual captors. AAC determined the timeline added up and that Snow belonged to this man.

Staff contacted Fields and the pair reunited, according to the Instagram post.

“It’s like the best Christmas gift ever,” Fields said on being reunited with Snow.

Is it legal to own a python in Texas?

If someone wants to own a snake not indigenous to this region, they must get a Controlled Exotic Snake Permit through the Texas Parks and Wildlife. To get the permit, one has to pay a $20 fee, but it “allows possession and or transportation of an unlimited number of snakes,” according to TPWD’s page on exotic snake ownership in Texas.