The body of a 66-year-old man was found dead next to a 21-foot python outside his home on Saturday, 30 miles northeast of Tokyo, according to the AFP.
Police are investigating the death of Shoji Fujita, in Ushiku city, after he was found with a reticulated python sitting next to his lifeless body. A police spokesman said on Monday that the snake was kept by Fujita's son who ran an exotic pet store.
The Japan Times said he apparently died after being bitten by the snake, which was from a pet breeding farm owned by his son. The police said his body showed signs of snake bites on his head and arms, and he was bleeding.
Fujita had gone outside to check the temperature of the reptile compound next to their house at around 10:30 p.m., according to the AFP. His wife went to check on him when he did not return, and found his body. An autopsy was being carried out to determine the cause of death, said the police.
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"I was keeping (the python) with approval from the Ibaraki Prefectural Government," the victim's son was quoted as saying by the police, according to The Japan Times. The Welfare and Management of Animals Law requires those keeping or selling reticulated pythons to seek approval from the local government.
According to Discovery, reticulated pythons are the longest snakes in the world, some reaching over 30 feet in length. They live primarily in tropical forests and woods in Southeast Asia, near bodies of water, and feed on warmblooded prey like birds, deer, wild pigs and other mammals, including, on the rare occasion, humans.
Pythons kill their prey through constriction, wrapping it in the coils of their bodies and usually swallow it whole.