Snake mistakenly kills handler in fit of ‘affection' not aggression, coroner rules


A yellow python, similar to one that killed a British man, is pictured here.

CHURCH CROOKHAM, HAMPSHIRE, UK — The fact that Dan Brandon is the first Briton to die by a python is not the wildest detail of his fate.

The 31-year-old snake owner died of asphyxiation last year at his home in Church Crookham, Hampshire, the Daily Mail reported.

His killer, a beloved 8-foot-long African rock python named Tiny, may not have killed him in a fit of aggression.

Coroner Andrew Bradley recently appeared in court to share his findings.

“We have nothing apart from Tiny, so I have to accept she is instrumental in Dan’s death,” he said.

As for the motivation behind the attack, Bradley said that aggression may not have been the reason.

"I do not believe in any way it was aggression from Tiny nor a confrontation – if anything it was a show of affection, a moment of peace," he continued.

Reptile expert John Cooper also spoke of Brandon, who had cared for snakes for 16 years of his life.

“Mr. Brandon was obviously an experienced herpetologist and had a good relationship with these animals. He had been keeping snakes for 16 years and it showed,” Cooper said.


Brandon knew how to handle a snake properly and would have established a connection with her as her handler, Cooper said.

Another conclusion of the investigation was that the snake did not bite the victim.

To add to Bradley’s belief that Tiny did not kill in aggression, Cooper mentioned that Tiny was not shedding her skin at the time, either.

“When snakes shed their skin they leave what we call a ‘sluff.’ I examined this very carefully using an X-ray and it showed she was in good condition,” he said. “Snakes tend to be more aggressive when they are going through this ‘sluff’ period, but there is no evidence to suggest that she was going through this at this point in time.”

Brandon’s mother said her son had been with Tiny for a long time. In fact, he first got her when she was small enough to fit in his hand. Tiny is believed to be in her care.

"She was his baby and she loved him. She could be temperamental, if she didn't want to be held, she would pretend to strike or hiss, but she never felt threatened by him and he loved her," she said.