Stolen 7-foot boa constrictor returned to Escondido museum

ESCONDIDO, Calif. -- A seven-foot snake stolen from a living museum in Escondido is now back home.

The albino boa named "Lemony Snicket" had been missing for about a month before someone returned him Wednesday afternoon. “We can tell he’s very happy to be home," said Susan Nowicke, the manager at EcoVivarium.

FOX 5 first reported about Lemony after he was taken by an unknown thief during a group tour at the museum.

The seven-foot snake is a star attraction who loves to be around people, especially kids, Nowicke says. Today, she and the rest of the museum's staff are just grateful to have him home.

“We were in the back cleaning up an animal spill. We heard the doorbell sound go off -- we said ‘we’ll be right with you.’ Went to the front and no one was there, but there was Lemony, sitting on the carpet," Nowicke said of the boa's sudden reappearance.

She said surveillance video showed a man taking the snake out of a backpack, putting it on the floor and leaving.

“I really think it came down to the coverage you guys gave us. I think it just made it too uncomfortable to have such an obvious animal -- couldn’t take him anywhere, couldn’t show him off to anybody. We were getting calls left and right," Nowicke explained.

After nearly a month away from home, Lemony wasn't in the best shape Wednesday. "He was a little bit dehydrated -- he hadn't been fed while he was gone. And he came back with a serious case of mites, which are kind of like fleas for snakes," said Nowicke.

So the boa is in quarantine for now, though staff expect him to be just fine.
It's unknown whether the person who returned the boa is the same one who stole it -- the museum is holding up to their "no questions asked" plea for the snake's safe return. "I thank them from the bottom of my heart for bringing him back to us," Nowicke said.