October 1, 2013
By Peter Clark
Hamilton heads home after nearly a week on the lam
A python hid behind the walls in an Issaquah High School classroom for almost a week.
Even though Hamilton, biology teacher Bryan Robles’ ball python, posed no threat to the children who learned his secret hiding spot, it still is an unsettling thought.
Robles said that the almost 4-foot snake had never tried to escape. However, after a summer left in the care of a student, Hamilton grew.
“All last year, he didn’t attempt to get out,” Robles said. “He’s just grown. He’s graduated to eating rats and he used to just eat small mice.”
Now, biology textbooks are placed on the corners of Hamilton’s terrarium, but on the fateful night of his escape, no such security was in place.
Robles said he was there during the Sept. 10 Curriculum Night, when parents met with teachers. The next day, Hamilton had fled.
“We had teachers, the assistant principal, the principal and a person from animal control looking all over the place, and of course we couldn’t find him,” Robles said. “The biggest fear at the time was he could squeeze under the doors, but there was just not enough room for him.”
Additionally, Robles said pythons would rather stay in one place than hightail out of a building, let alone a room.
“They’re just not likely to move long distances,” he said.
And so, sure that Hamilton had not vacated the premises, yet still unable to locate him, Robles continued classes.
Because Hamilton is not poisonous and is the smallest variety of the African pythons, there was no danger for the students in the classroom.
“The only danger was that he would appear and startle somebody,” Robles said.
While Robles had to quash some rumors, he said the students were not very frightened.
“The kids were sympathetic and thought it was kind of a joke,” he said. “There was an atmosphere of giddiness that somewhere in the room is a snake.”
Student Megan Dierda agreed.
“I was sad because he was your pet,” she said to Robles. “I don’t think anyone was truly scared. It was just something that created some drama.”
After six days of looking without a hint as to Hamilton’s whereabouts, even the security cameras in the room were checked.
But then one day, Robles returned to the empty room after making copies.
“And there he was right by the door,” he said, “you know, how a dog waits by the door for their master to come home.”
After further investigation, Robles figured out Hamilton had whiled away the hours in a small opening between cabinets.
Most of the students were excited to see the classroom pet return.
“You having a pet snake made me more comfortable around them,” student Anna Mckee said to the teacher. “I told my mom about it and even she was excited he was back.”
Robles, who has taught at Issaquah High for 12 years, was glad to welcome the snake home and see an end to all the attention the poor reptile received for his daring disappearing act.
For now, Robles will just make sure the textbooks remain on Hamilton’s terrarium.