Aug 07, 2013

By Jane Brown

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The deaths of two young brothers in New Brunswick are prompting discussion about the ownership of dangerous animals as pets in Canada.  Six year old Connor and his 4 year old brother Noah Barthe are believed to have been killed by an African rock python overnight Sunday while they were sleeping at a friend’s apartment.  RCMP Sergeant Alain Tremblay says the snake was originally thought to have slithered its way up from an exotic pet store beneath the apartment, but was actually in a custom built glass enclosure not far from where the brothers slept.

Animal welfare experts are calling for tougher rules restricting the ownership of exotic animals.  Ron Laidlaw is the Executive Director of Zoocheck Canada.  He says there is a patchwork of laws across the country and some communities allow large snakes in homes and pet shops, while others prohibit them unless the owners have a special permit.  “I think there are very compelling reasons for drastically restricting the trade in reptiles, which is now represented by some 500 species.  At the least, everybody should be very aggressive in not allowing the ownership of dangerous reptiles.”  Laidlaw says New Brunswick’s rules are better than Ontario’s, where ownership rules are left to municipal governments and there is no province-wide restrictions on owning the giant snakes.

One theory on why the snake may have attacked the children is that it was lured by their scent because they’d played with farm animals that day and likely smelled like prey.


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