Ven­omous snake found in Ni­a­gara Falls truck

African co­ral cobra be­ing trans­ported to rep­tile zoo

The Niagara Falls Review - - Front Page - MELINDA CHEEV­ERS Metroland

A Ni­a­gara Falls man found more than he was bar­gain­ing for when he looked to see what his cat was play­ing with in the bed of his pickup truck.

Sam O’Shea went out­side his Seneca Street home shortly af­ter 9 p.m. Mon­day, made his way to his truck and dis­cov­ered that his cat was play­ing with a snake in the truck bed. When he shooed the cat away, the snake be­came ag­gres­sive.

That’s when he de­cided he needed help. He called around and was put in touch with Con­nor Boese, who has ex­pe­ri­ence with snakes.

“I was al­ready on the road, I had been run­ning er­rands in Wel­land and was on my way back to St. Catharines when I got the call,” said Boese, adding he al­tered his route to go help O’Shea.

Boese has owned snakes and rep­tiles for most of his adult life. While in the past he’s had con­stric­tors and var­i­ous types of lizards, he cur­rently owns a corn snake.

Once he ar­rived at O’Shea’s house, about 9:30 p.m., he set about cap­tur­ing the 0.6-me­tre­long snake.

“He had gone up in­side the truck frame and I knew we had to let it come out on its own ac­cord. I didn’t know what kind of snake it was so I didn’t want to reach in there and grab him,” said Boese.

What does one use to lure a snake? Boese was suc­cinct in his re­ply: pa­tience.

“Know­ing the snake is a noc­tur­nal hunter, I knew he’d come out,” he said. “You have to take the lights away, and just sort of do sur­veil­lance on the truck un­til he came out.”

Once the snake emerged from the truck, Boese used a con­tainer to trap him. He posted pho­tos of the snake on the Cana­dian Her­peto­log­i­cal So­ci­ety’s Face­book page and its mem­bers helped to iden­tify the snake type: an African co­ral cobra.

Bry Loyst, di­rec­tor and pres­i­dent of In­dian River Rep­tile Zoo, said the ven­omous snakes are

po­ten­tially deadly, and an an­tivenin for its bite does not ex­ist.

“It’s not just that the an­tivenin isn’t avail­able in Canada, one doesn’t ex­ist any­where for this type of snake,” said Loyst.

Boese sealed the snake in a dou­ble con­tain­ment and reached out to Loyst, as di­rec­tor of Canada’s only reg­is­tered non­profit rep­tile zoo, for help.

“I was shocked I had got­ten away so lucky,” he said. “I made sure to take pre­cau­tions so it couldn’t get out again. I’d like to take more care than who­ever it was that brought it here.”

Loyst said ven­omous snakes like this aren’t the gar­den va­ri­ety type and would have come to the area through an un­der­ground mar­ket. Be­cause of that it’s hard to de­ter­mine how many co­ral co­bras ex­ist as pets in On­tario.

“It’s pretty rare to see co­ral co­bras es­caped or re­leased in On­tario though, it’s def­i­nitely not com­mon,” he said.

On Tues­day, Loyst made his way to St. Catharines to pick up the snake from Boese. It will be brought back to the In­dian River Rep­tile Zoo, lo­cated about 15 kilo­me­tres east of Peter­bor­ough. The zoo has hun­dreds of rep­tiles and op­er­ates on a do­na­tion ba­sis.

“The les­son here is if you have ex­otic pets, you have to act re­spon­si­bly. If you don’t want it any­more, you don’t just re­lease it — reach out to us and we’ll take it for you,” said Loyst.

“If you see ex­otic pets out in the wild, don’t ap­proach them. Call in an ex­pert.

“The man who picked it up got lucky.”

MIKE ZET­TEL METROLAND

Bry Loyst, of In­dian River Rep­tile Zoo, east of Peter­bor­ough, care­fully places an African co­ral cobra into a safe car­ry­ing case af­ter re­mov­ing it from a hold­ing tank in St. Catharines res­i­dent Con­nor Boese’s home.

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