A man who owned 10 snakes and 12 tarantulas was killed by his 2.4m (8ft) pet python called Tiny, an inquest has heard.
Animal lover Dan Brandon died of asphyxiation at his home in Hampshire on 25 August last year, Basingstoke Coroners’ Court was told.
Coroner Andrew Bradley recorded a verdict of misadventure following the incident with the African rock python. Mr Brandon, a keen snake handler, had owned Tiny since she was small enough to fit in his hand.
“The most likely scenario is that Tiny was engaged with Dan – I have no doubt about that,” the coroner said.
“She was coiling around him, at which point I have no idea. There was a point at which either she takes hold of him unexpectedly or trips him up or some other mechanism.”
Mr Bradley said Tiny then hid as she was probably shocked by her 31-year-old owner falling to the ground.
He said Mr Brandon was asphyxiated “as a result with contact with Tiny” and insisted he could not see any other reason for the death.
The man’s mother Babs told the coroner the snake loved her son and that Tiny was his “baby”. She said her son was never intimidated by the snake’s strength.
The pathologist who examined Mr Brandon came to the diagnosis of asphyxiation by exclusion after he found a haemorrhage behind one eye, burst blood vessels and congested lungs.
But Dr Adman al Badri said there were “no specific signs on his neck” after examining the neck muscles.
There were also no bite marks or puncture wounds on Mr Brandon’s body, the court heard as the coroner ruled there was no aggression from the animal.
Reptile expert Professor John Cooper told the inquest the pet owner was “obviously experienced” at looking after the animals and that he “would have known how to unwrap a python”.
After examining the skin Tiny shed later in November, the professor said there would have been visible scratches on the skin caused by Mr Brandon trying to get her off if she had coiled around him. He said he did not find any scratches.
He said African rock pythons were “rather more temperamental” but “got to know their handlers”.
Following the inquest, the family said the snake owner was “one of the funniest people you could wish to meet”.
In a statement written by Mrs Brandon, she said: “I cry every day and night and relive that evening all the time.
“All the family wanted was answers to our questions, and I have no idea yet whether we have that or will.”