A Kentucky pet store owner survived an attack by a 20-foot python in his own shop.

Terry Wilkins was in the shop with employee Melissa McElfresh when the 126-pound snake attacked him.

"I saw the snake's head turn and I told him, I said, 'Terry be careful; he's looking at you,' and he said, 'It's all right,' and no sooner he said that, just as quick as lightning," McElfresh said.

She then dialled 911. Police officers Sgt. Daron Arnbergn and Police Lt. Greg Rapberger responded and rushed to the shop.

Upon their arrival, the snake had already wrapped itself around the Wilkins' torso. Lt. Rapberger seized the python's head while Sgt. Arnberg untangled it from the victim's neck.

"I saw him lying on the ground. I see a puddle of blood. He looks lifeless. So naturally we have to try to save him. So I grabbed the mop and tried to hold the snake's head down and that didn't work." Arnberg explained. "The lieutenant stepped aside me and grabbed the snake by the head so we wouldn't get bit."

The officers then wrangled the python back into its cage. At that point, Wilkins was already unresponsive. He was rushed to a hospital where he had almost two dozen stitches from the bite on his arm. He returned home later during the day.

The python was a breeding snake and was not used to being handled by humans. Wilkins' shop, which contained more than a hundred snakes, was in compliance with the city's snake ordinances, according to the Newport police chief.

The python was left unharmed.

Pythons are a family of nonvenomous snakes found in Africa, Asia, and Australia. Among its members are some of the largest snakes in the world. Pythons use their sharp, backward-curving teeth, four rows in the upper jaw, two in the lower, to grasp prey which is then killed by constriction; after an animal has been grasped to restrain it, the python quickly wraps a number of coils around it. Death occurs primarily by asphyxiation.

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