Officers Discover 'Emotional Support Python' During DUI Stop

You've heard of emotional support dogs—but how about emotional support pythons?

According to FOX10 News, police in Fort Walton Beach, Florida were performing a DUI stop on Wednesday when they encountered an unusual passenger in one driver's car. They say the driver was accompanied by what appeared to be a python.

The driver reportedly told the officers that the snake was his 'emotional support animal.'

A news clip covering the story includes photos from the scene: in one image, the enormous yellow-green snake is shown sitting comfortably in the passenger seat while its head reaches towards the glove compartment. Another photo shows an officer on the side of the road, holding the giant python across both of his arms.

Although snakes might seem like an unlikely candidate for an emotional support animal, they are actually relatively common. According to the website Emotionalsupportanimalco.com, there is a compelling case for why snakes might, surprisingly enough, be the perfect pet for this role.

Snakes are relatively easy to care for and need to be fed infrequently. They are naturally hypoallergenic since they don't have hair or fur, and they are extremely quiet, making them ideal for bringing to public places. Additionally, their tendency to wrap and coil themselves around people can feel extremely comforting—almost like a hug.

Snakes are hardly the only exotic creatures to be adopted as emotional support animals. In a 2020 article covering airlines' regulation of animals on planes, The Guardian reported that the category of emotional support pets has been expanded far beyond the typical cat or dog.

According to the article, "Delta noted that passengers 'attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes and spiders."

This practice has caused controversy, leading to multiple airlines limiting the types of animals that are permitted onboard.

American Airlines, for example, still permits cats and dogs on their flights, but they stated they "would not allow animals including goats, ferrets, hedgehogs, amphibians and reptiles onboard...as support animals."

The exotic animals, it was reported, posed a health risk to other passengers.

However, for the Florida driver, the python seems like a natural choice. The non-venomous snakes are known to run rampant in the state and are considered invasive to the area. Considering how common and widespread these snakes are in Florida, it might not be such an unusual choice after all.

Yellow Python
In Fort Walton Beach, Florida, officers discovered a driver accompanied by an 'emotional support' python. Chris Weeks/Getty Images