15-feet long African rock python escapes from pet store, kills two boys (age 5 and 7)

Python from NB
via Facebook

Terribly sad news out of Campbellton, in New Brunswick, Canada. Two boys aged 5 and 7 are dead, and initial reports show that they were probably killed by a large python that escaped from a pet store located below the apartment where they lived. Early reports said that the snake was a boa constrictor, but the police have caught it and it has been identified as a python. One source claims it is around 14-15 feet long and weights close to 100lbs, and a former store employee identified it as an African rock Python, a type of snake that is non-venomous, but known to eat large animals like antelopes and even occasionally crocodiles.

Update: A reptile expert consulted on the case says that the python might have mistaken the boys for prey because earlier in the day they were on a farm and played with the animals, giving them a distinct smell.

The CBC in Canada reports:

"The preliminary investigation has led police to believe that a python snake escaped its enclosure in the store sometime overnight," the constable said.

Rogers-Marsh said it went through the ventilation. "It's believed the two boys were strangled by the snake," she said.

We'll have to wait for the investigation to conclude to know what took place exactly, but whatever it is, it's a tragedy.

Reptile Ocean pet store photoFacebook/via

The photo on top of this article was taken from the store's Facebook page and is thought to show the snake in question. The second one shows Reptile Ocean, the pet store where the python escaped from. The windows above are presumably of the apartment where the two boys were (some sources report that they didn't live there, but were brothers that had a sleepover).

A petition exists to ask for the store to be shut down. Looking at the date of the signatures, it's been around for at least a year. The creator of the petition provides a long description of everything that he thinks is wrong with the store, and it's a long list. Here's a representative excerpt:

The humidity is disgusting for all the animals, i understand if it was just reptiles but its not.. They got hamsters and bunnies, and a whole lotta birds.

First time i went there there was at least 10 hamsters per 5 gallon aquarium tanks. Some were dead, actually being eaten by other of those rodents, Also one had a huge tumor on its head and pus was coming out of it... I told the worker and he giggled, This is no situation to be laughing at. I just shut my mouth and left thinking something might be done

Sadly, all we can do is offer our condolences to the family and friends of the boys and remind everyone who is dealing with dangerous wild animals to be aware of the dangers and to stay safe.

Here's an African rock python in action. Be warned, these images aren't for everybody...

Above is an African rock python stretching (!) to consume an antelope in South Africa...

Via CBC, Global News

See also: Ocean Requiem: Amazing short film shows why we must protect our oceans (video)

Related Content on Treehugger.com