Pet Boa Constrictor Predicts Seizures, Saves Owner's Life

Daniel Greene has trained his beloved snake to warn him of an oncoming epileptic seizure. But the life-saving animal is still illegal.

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boa constrictor, snake, face of a snake
Would you ever consider owning a snake as a service animal? (Photo: Yuri Cortez/Getty)

Daniel Greene is comforted by the feeling of a boa constrictor wrapping itself around his neck and gently squeezing. The boa constrictor’s name is Redrock, and the snake is Greene’s “unofficial” (read: totally illegal) service animal and true soul mate.

He’s the best thing that ever happened to me.

The Shelton, Washington, man told PeoplePets that he has been an epileptic for the past 22 years and Redrock has been a life-saver. "He sees increases in my blood pressure, or detects changes in my body, three minutes before I have a seizure. He alerted me about the three seizures I have had this month."

In case you were wondering, 46-year-old Greene is not only a church minister and professional clown, but he also owns two pet pythons named Gia and Bronze.

Redrock’s previous owner had passed the six-year-old snake on to friends who neglected him, who eventually sold the unfortunate animal to a pet store, where Greene bought him.

Greene saw service potential in Redrock, and despite the snake’s initial nervousness, it only took a weekend for him to get used to Greene and another month for him to become a service animal.

When he senses a seizure, either from increases in blood pressure or other bodily changes, Greene’s five-foot long reptilian helper grips his neck, squeezes, then jumps into a carrier.

“He knows what to do,” says Greene, who always carries seizure medicine with him. Greene says it makes sense that snakes can sense seizures since they also detect earthquakes, “and a bodily seizure is a kind of earthquake.”

The federal government does not recognize snakes as service animals, says ABA Journal, because entering public places with a boa constrictor would be potentially alarming to other people. Proposed revisions to the Americans with Disabilities Act would also exclude other reptiles, amphibians, rodents and monkeys born in captivity. After a deluge of public comment on the issue, the Obama Administration has delayed implementation of the revisions until its new civil rights team is onboard.

While public alarm is certainly understandable, and proper training is essential for any service animal, especially an exotic or potentially scary one, it’s hard to forget Daniel Greene’s words about his beloved boa: "He’s the best thing that ever happened to me."