The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - July 21

A python inadvertently stolen when a knapsack was snatched earlier this week turned up safe and sound on Thursday. The 65-cm-long (two feet) Royal Python was "calm and only a little debilitated by the current heatwave," rescuers said.

A man came across the reptile - known as a Ball Python in America - near the rail station in the Tuscan city of Prato. He called the police who took the weak and dozy animal straight to the city zoo, where it was put into a cool terrarium (reptile tank) and fed.

The knapsack went missing from the station on Monday. Police said the shocked thief evidently shook the snake out as soon as he felt it moving.

Royal or Ball Pythons get their name from their habit of rolling into a protective ball when threatened. Found across Central and West Africa, they are one of the most highly trafficked snakes for the pet trade, because they are low-maintenance and have a docile and friendly nature.

The python's owner near Lake Garda has been contacted. He has the required import permit for his pet.