This column has appeared in The Redland Times, Cleveland, Redland Shire, Queensland, Australia. Image of scrub python courtesy Stewed Thoughts.
A BACKGROUND in aviation shows when Capalaba bus driver Mario Mayerhofer describes his pet snake, Buff, as a "gentle missile".
"He’s very sleek and about 17 to 18 kilograms and he’s all muscle," Mario says, of the 5.5m scrub python.
The missile is missing.
Buff and Kah, his mate of the same species, slid away in the dark of night after a branch dropped on to their cage during a Sunday storm last month.
Four days later, a nearby resident hosing her hedge came face to face with Kah, who matches Buff’s length but at 28kg outweighs him by about 10kg.
The encounter qualified the woman for a $500 reward, which Mario offered on leaflets and posters.
ANOTHER $500 is waiting for anyone who helps Mario find Buff.
Notices in our Classifieds have failed to turn up any leads.
Mario and Kah, who may be carrying Buff’s babies, are both pretty glum right now.
The last time Buff and Kah had babies, 18 big bundles of joy, each 82cm long, emerged from the eggs, Mario says.
Mario’s interest in snakes dates from his childhood in the Bavarian city of Passau, where he later worked as an aircraft engineer and pilot in general aviation, while breeding boa constrictors.
His migration to Queensland in 1992, following his mum and her husband, Nandor and Alfie Farnady, meant a break with boas.
Mario says the three now focus on breeding native Australian snakes, including not just the scrub pythons but other species including tigers, redbelly blacks and king browns – all strictly in accordance with the rules, standards and licensing requirements.
A 5.5-METRE-LONG python of a species that hails from Cape York Peninsula cannot hide forever in an urban environment. Mario simply hopes Buff is staying out of trouble.
"I am worried that he may kill a dog," Mario says. "He will retreat from a human threat but he could give a nasty bite if anyone tried to handle him
"There is the chance he has been hit by a car or someone has done him in, which would be a tragedy."
Mario says he has received a lot of help from bayside snake catcher Geoff Jacobs in breeding snakes.
"Geoff says no dog or other animal around here would touch Buff," Mario says.
The worry about Buff has been hanging over Mario’s head as he has started a new career as a bus driver.
He has worked in Australian aviation at Archerfield, Queensland, and Benalla, Victoria, but says he finally has opted for the security of regular, fulltime work.
But still he thinks of missiles, particularly the one that’s missing.
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