Professional snake handler killed in S Australian home
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Crushed by Pet Python
By SAM RICHES and BRYAN LITTLELY
May 02, 2005
Brisbane Courier Mail
POLICE suspect a pet snake is responsible for the death of a man found yesterday in his Tanunda home.
The body of professional snake handler Erik Attmarrsson was discovered at his Mattiske Rd property by a work colleague from nearby Venom Supplies.
Police said marks on the face of the 28-year-old, from Sweden, could be consistent with being crushed to death by a snake he kept in an enclosure at the property.
Officers were searching for his pet Queensland native scrub python, which can grow to an average of about 5m, because it had disappeared from its secure enclosure.
Police said they would not reveal any more details before an autopsy was conducted at the Forensic Science Centre in Adelaide today to determine the cause of death.
While it is believed Mr Attmarrsson did not have any pre-existing medical conditions, it is understood he had consumed a large amount of alcohol before his death. Police last night would not comment on if this may have contributed to his death.
Mr Attmarrsson last June beat 150 applicants for the exotic snake curator's position at the Tanunda-based anti-venene business.
It is believed he lived alone near his work place, home to hundreds of venomous snakes milked for anti-venene production.
Police were called to the Mattiske Rd property about 1.15pm yesterday. It is believed he died sometime between Friday night and yesterday when he was found.
Nuriootpa CIB detectives could not find a Queensland Native Scrub Python he is believed to have kept as a pet. The snakes grow to an average of about 5m, but have been recorded at up to 8.5m in length in Australia.
Mr Attmarrsson, when he began work with Venom Supplies, told The Leader he had kept non-venomous snakes since he was 10.
"I had to nag my parents for a while to get a snake," he told the newspaper. "I'm happy they let me get one because they are fascinating animals to watch."
Police said there were several snake enclosures inside and outside Mr Attmarrsson's home and snakes were free inside the property.
Director of the Australian Reptile Park, John Wiegel, said he had not heard of anyone in Australia being crushed to death by a snake but said it did happen overseas where the pythons were much bigger.
"There have been a number of incidences overseas where a snake has got confused and the person is asphyxiated and has died, but we've never come close to that in Australia," he said. "This species does get pretty confused sometimes."
Police dispute killer python report
May 02, 2005
A SNAKE handler from Sweden has been found dead at his South Australian home, but police have disputed reports he might have been crushed to death by his pet python.
The body of the 28-year-old professional snake handler was found at his home in the Barossa Valley, north of Adelaide, yesterday.
The Advertiser reported marks on the face of Erik Attmarsson were consistent with him being crushed to death by a snake.
"The man kept a snake in the house, but at this time there is no evidence to show that the snake was involved in the man's death," a police spokesman said this morning.
Wildlife experts said there had been no confirmed cases of pythons crushing a person to death in Australia.
However, they said such deaths had occurred in other countries where pythons grew much bigger.
Police also rejected further media reports that Mr Attmarsson's five-metre Queensland Native Scrub Python was missing from its enclosure.
The spokesman said the python was located inside the house.
Last year, Mr Attmarsson beat about 150 applicants for the position of exotic snake curator at a Tanunda-based venom supplies business.
The business is involved in milking hundreds of venomous snakes for the production of anti-venin.
A post mortem examination will be conducted today.
Autopsy carried out on Barossa snake handler
Tuesday, May 3, 2005. 7:29am (AEST)
Police are awaiting the results of an autopsy to determine how a well-known snake handler in South Australia's Barossa Valley died.
A work colleague found Erik Attmarsson's body at his home in Tanunda on Sunday.
Police ordered an autopsy to find out whether he had been strangled by a pet scrub python at the house.
Reptile dealer Tim Mensforth says the 28-year-old man moved from Sweden almost a year ago to work at a venom supply company in the Barossa.
"Oh they're very upset because the people who worked with him out there discovered his body when he didn't turn up for work," he said.
"I did speak to one of them... and they were more than upset out there."
Did the snake do it?
2005 May 4
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) - A 28-year-old Swedish professional snake handler was found dead in a house in Australia and police said Wednesday they are investigating whether he was crushed to death by his five-metre-long pet python.
The snake was discovered near Erik Attmarsson's body on Sunday in his home in Tanunda, about 50 kilometres north of the South Australia state capital, Adelaide, police spokesman Colin Haigh said. The Adelaide Advertiser newspaper reported that the man's body was found with marks on his face consistent with being crushed to death by a snake. But Haigh said the report was wrong.
"There's nothing to suggest the snake did it," he said.
Attmarsson worked as an exotic snake curator at a venom supplies business in Tanunda. The business is involved in milking hundreds of venomous snakes for the production of antivenin.
An autopsy was being done on Attmarsson's body to determine how he died. The results were expected later this week, Haigh said.
Snakes like pythons kill by constriction, gradually suffocating their prey by wrapping their coils around it and tightening the grip each time the prey exhales.
Autopsy fails to confirm man crushed by python
May 05, 2005 (AP)
An autopsy conducted on a 28-year-old Swedish snake handler has failed to determine whether he was suffocated by the constricting coils of his five-metre pet python, police said today.
The giant scrub python was discovered near Erik Attmarssonˇ¦s body on Sunday in his home in Tanunda, about 50 kilometres north of the South Australia state capital, Adelaide.
Police said the outcome of a post-mortem examination was inconclusive.
Earlier this week, local media reported the manˇ¦s body was found with marks on his face consistent with being crushed by a snake, but police immediately dismissed the reports.
Snakes such as pythons kill by constriction, gradually suffocating their prey by wrapping their coils around it and tightening the grip each time the prey exhales.
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