11-foot python captured in rental house near Colfax, Wash.

Photo: WSU College of Veterinary Medicine

PULLMAN (KAYU-TV) -- Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine has captured an 11-foot long reticulated python believed to have been abandoned by renters near Colfax, Wash.

It is the second large snake in a month with which law enforcement has requested the college's assistance.

The homeowner summoned the Whitman County Sheriff's office and a deputy contacted Nickol Finch, the veterinarian who heads the exotics and wildlife service at the WSU veterinary college.

While its length is impressive, the python is not a monster snake like those escapees recently hunted in the Florida Everglades. The animal is slightly undernourished but weighs a reasonable 22 pounds.

The immediate medical concern is moderate burns the animal suffered before its capture. As the weather cooled, the cold-blooded snake sought out a heater in the rental property and curled around it. Finch, staff and students are caring for the snake with fluids, antibiotics and topical ointments.

The cost for care -- so far more than $100 -- will likely increase and be borne by Washington taxpayers. "These things are professionally frustrating for us and frankly offer little in terms of teaching value," said Finch. "This snake was owned and the owner has left it abandoned, injured and underweight for society to deal with.

"Under the law, we can't simply destroy it until the appropriate length of time has passed for an owner to claim it and we have exhausted our responsibilities to place it with a new owner."

The costs for the likely extended stay of weeks to months could run upwards of $1,000.

Anyone interested in donating to the snake's care or joining a registry for selection as its potential new owner can contact the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital at 509-335-0711 for more details and assistance.