Theft of snakes likely targeted, police say
THOROLD, ONT. — More than a dozen deadly snakes are at risk themselves and pose potential danger to others after a weekend breakin in southern Ontario, local police said Tuesday.
Niagara Regional Police said the snakes were snatched from a rural home in Thorold on Saturday evening, leaving them scrambling to recover the animals and identify suspects.
Const. Phil Gavin said the targeted attack zeroes in on a wide array of snakes, most of which are venomous and all of which have potential to kill.
They include a diamondback rattlesnake, five varieties of cobra, a pit adder, several vipers and a pregnant albino boa constrictor.
“These certainly are not reptiles that should be trifled with either by trained personnel or by anyone who just stumbles across them,” Gavin said.
Gavin said the owner of the residence is believed to have been raising and possibly breeding the reptiles for sale, a practice that is legal in Ontario.
“There’s reason to believe that ... the people responsible (for the theft) knew they were there and targeted them,” Gavin said of the reptiles. “The average person to go in and deal with these snakes, the likelihood is they wouldn’t reach into a cobra pit without some level of knowledge.”
The snakes range considerably in size, Gavin said. The venomous animals range in size from 12 to 106 centimetres. The boa constrictor, which is not venomous but can still kill with its powerful crushing force, is 200 centimetres long.
The practice of owning exotic animals is largely legal thanks to a patchwork of laws across the country. Ontario is widely considered to have the least stringent laws. The province has banned only two animals for domestic ownership — killer whales and pit bull terriers. It is up to municipal governments to create their own bylaws restricting the types of animals that can live within its jurisdiction.
Anyone with information about the theft is encouraged to come forward.