By Jennifer Viegas
As authorities await autopsy results on Connor and Noah Barthe, two young Canadian boys apparently strangled this week by a pet African rock python on the loose, reptile experts are puzzling over the deaths.
"African rocky pythons are big, dangerous snakes, but the circumstances in this case seem unusual to me," Max Nickerson, curator of the Florida Museum of Natural History's Division of Herpetology, told Discovery News. Nickerson has extensive experience with this type of snake, having help care for one for some time in the past.
"They never tame down and are always a bit of a challenge," he continued. "They are fully capable of swallowing small individuals and are definitely not pet material, but it's hard to conjecture what exactly happened in this case."
Preliminary information released by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police holds that the python escaped from the exotic pet store Reptile Ocean, Inc. in New Brunswick.
Owner Jean-Claude Savoie, who kept the nearly 15-foot-long snake as a personal pet, said that the snake escaped through a ventilation system, fell into the living room from the ceiling, and then apparently strangled the two boys to death. The boys were the children of a friend, and were said to be sleeping over at Savoie's apartment near the shop.
David Rodrigue, director of Montreal's Ecomuseum Zoo, said that pythons usually only go into strangulation mode when they are stimulated by hunger and prey odor. He said that the situation with the boys was highly improbable. More....