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Escaped three-metre anaconda shuts down swimming lake near Düsseldorf

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Escaped three-metre anaconda shuts down swimming lake near Düsseldorf
Signs saying "bathing forbidden" and "feeding prohibited" on the shores of Lake Latum. The city of Meerbusch has closed the lake because of an anaconda sighting. Photo: DPA
12:16 CEST+02:00
An anaconda measuring around three metres in length is playing hide and seek with German authorities in a lake near Düsseldorf.

Reptile experts, along with other rescue workers, are trying to remove a snake that was discovered in Latum Lake, Meerbusch, near Düsseldorf.

The reptile was first discovered last Thursday by a fisherman. Since then, the yellow snake has made nationwide headlines.

However, it seems the animal doesn't want to be found.

The yellow anaconda is part of the boa constructor family and native to South America. The largest anaconda species, and the only one considered to actually be dangerous, is the green anaconda. The other types may still be risky to handle, but are not thought to kill humans.

RP Online reports that the snake was spotted sunbathing on Tuesday by Tobias Schütz, water manager in the fishing sports club, who was in a boat on the lookout for the reptile.

He immediately called the public order office, which alerted the fire department. They were supported by colleagues in Düsseldorf, who brought along a reptile expert.

But after an hour of searching and trying to capture the anaconda, the men had to give up. Even though firefighters had cut back the dense bushes it made no difference - the snake had slid back into the water.

It is still hoped that the anaconda will be rediscovered the next time it decides to make the most of the sun.

A sighting of the anaconda. DPA

Markus Juschka, reptile expert of the Düsseldorf Aquazoo has been trying to spot the snake. The aim is to catch the snake alive.  

"The only chance to discover the animal is when it is in the sun," Juschka told RP Online. He added that it would be too difficult to spot in the water.

If the snake is not caught in the late afternoon, the advice is to wait until the temperatures drop.

Juschka said the snake will not survive in temperatures below 20 degrees. "Only when the sun comes out do the reptiles come out," he said.  "From 27 degrees, they feel good." He said anacondas like to lie outside for an hour and warm their skin. Sunbathing at 32 degrees is ideal for the reptiles.

"In the rain, it stays in its hiding place," he added.

If the snake isn't found in the next few days, workers could try to take a boat down the lake.

"A diver would be an ideal way to find the snake," Juschka said.

The expert also advised the city's officers to pay attention to trees and shrubs on the water's edge.

"It may be that it sits up to a foot and a half high in a tree and basks," said Juschka..“These animals also go into the branches."

The City Hall has had numerous discussions about how to go about catching the reptile. They are hoping they can use a special trap with help of a lure, such as bait, in order to remove the snake from the water without killing it. 

The main goal is to get the snake out of the lake quickly and alive. However, experts say this could be an extremely difficult and potentially lengthy job. That's because the yellow anaconda is considered very shy and responds immediately to any movement in the water or on the shore.

Angler Eugen Janischewski discovered the animal. At first he thought he had seen garbage, but suddenly the 'garbage' glided away.

A few hours later, the snake was re-sighted and photographed, according to the public order office. Reptile experts used the photos to identify them as a yellow anaconda.

The affected lake will remain closed until further notice.

No one knows how or why the snake has ended up in the lake. It could be that the snake has escaped or been abandoned by its owner. However, no one has reported a missing snake in the district.  

Anyone wishing to legally own an anaconda first needs an official EU document stating that the snake was lawfully imported into the EU, purchased within the EU, or legally bred, because the animals are a protected species.

 
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