Snake strangles children to death during sleepover in Canada

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Originally published on August 5, 2013

Two young children were found dead in an apartment located above a reptile store in New Brunswick, Canada, on Monday, according to police. Reports say an African rock python apparently strangled them after escaping from its enclosure and making its way into the room the boys were sleeping in through a ventilation system.

The boys, brothers aged 5 and 7 years old, were sleeping over with the son of Jean-Claude Savoie, owner of the Reptile Ocean exotic pet store.

Constable Jullie Rogers-Marsh of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said "It's believed the two boys were strangled by the snake." Rogers-Marsh added that she wasn't sure whether the boys were asleep when they were attacked.

The snake is an African rock python measuring between 14 to 16 feet long. The species is not venomous, is native to sub-saharan Africa and known to swallow whole antelopes in the wild.

However, experts say attacks by such exotic snakes are extremely rare.

Reuters reports, "'It's really not in their nature,' said Terry Phillip, curator of reptiles at Reptile Gardens, a wild animal park in South Dakota.

"'Snakes, even large pythons, are far less dangerous than family pets like dogs," he said."
Reptile Ocean's official Facebook account was shut down temporarily to prevent negative comments on the page.
Officials planned to perform an autopsy on the boys on Tuesday.

Police have taken custody of the snake, which was later recovered by the store owner.

Reptile Ocean has been open since 1995. It used to be a small zoo before it was converted into a retail facility, incorporating the property's upstairs animal enclosures into Savoie's apartment.

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