Video: Python tries to swallow owner

updated 4/20/2008 1:18:15 PM ET 2008-04-20T17:18:15

A pet store owner is calling a police sergeant a hero for saving her from the coils of a 12-foot  Burmese python doing its best to turn her into a meal.

Teresa Rossiter had reached into a cage Thursday to show the huge snake to a customer when it bit her right hand and coiled around her left arm, throwing her to the floor.

A friend who happened to be at the store kept the snake off her neck and body while police were called. And when Sgt. Ryan Nelson rushed into the store, he was ready to kill the snake with his knife.

But Rossiter asked him to spare the expensive python, so Nelson put on gloves and pried open the snake's mouth to free Rossiter's hand.

Two responders from the Eugene Fire Department helped unwrap the snake, which was eventually returned to its cage.

Rossiter called Nelson a hero.

"He was the bravest guy ever. He went way above and beyond the call of duty," she told The Oregonian newspaper.

Rossiter suffered dozens of puncture wounds, but she, the sergeant and the python were fine.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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