Snakegate: Reptile Expert Claims Lake Hopatcong Boa Is an Anaconda, Says He Was 'Sworn to Secrecy' Not to Tell
07/21/2014 AT 03:55 PM EDT
Reptile specialist Gerald Andrejcak believes the snake making headlines for terrorizing New Jersey's Lake Hopatcong is not a boa constrictor, but a green anaconda. The expert told NJ.com he recently saw the snake in a boathouse and was able to determine it was an anaconda based on his expertise, but was told by local animal control officer Dale Sloat to keep the discovery a secret.
"It's a green anaconda," Andrejcak said. "I've known its species [since last week], but I was sworn to keep my mouth shut by local officials to avoid causing a panic. Now that there's a panic, I'm going on the record." (For the record, boas and anacondas are members of the same species.)
News of a giant snake gliding through the waters of New Jersey's largest lake has many residents concerned for their safety. Andrejcak and animal control officials have spent the past several weeks searching the lake, drainpipes and boathouses for the reptile, but have had no luck capturing the animal.
Andrejcak said when he first spied the snake, it looked to be about 15 to 16 feet. Unfortunately, the animal quickly dove underwater before he could apprehend it. Anacondas are the largest snakes in the world, according to National Geographic, with the ability to grow up to 29 feet long. Officials believe that the snake was once a pet, but was later released into the lake when it became too big.
"It's completely irresponsible," said Andrejcak. "You have options like reptile sanctuaries. If you're going to get a large snake, you have to educate yourself and research the adult size of the animal. There's a lot of research that needs to be done."
The reptile specialist says he is using his days off to search for the snake free of charge, in hopes he can safely remove the animal from the lake before it finds a hiding spot to hole up in. Meanwhile, social media snake fans can follow the quippy creature on Twitter.