Boys in Canada believed killed by snake that escaped cage: police

Tue Aug 6, 2013 2:39pm EDT
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By Victoria Cavaliere

(Reuters) - Two young brothers found dead in an apartment over a reptile store in New Brunswick, Canada, were believed to have been strangled by a snake that escaped its enclosure and slithered into the building's ventilation system, police said on Monday.

The boys, ages 5 and 7, were sleeping over at a friend's apartment above Reptile Ocean in the city of Campbellton. Their bodies were discovered on Monday morning, said Constable Jullie Rogers-Marsh of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

"It's believed the two boys were strangled by the snake," Rogers-Marsh said, adding she was unaware if the boys were asleep when the attack occurred.

The snake, which was recovered in the building by the store owner, was in the custody of police, who would not identify its species.

"At this point we are still trying to piece together what happened," Rogers-Marsh said. "We do know the brothers were sleeping together in one room and the friend was sleeping in another."

Experts say attacks by exotic snakes are extremely rare.

"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.   Continued...

Police stand in front of the Reptile Ocean store in Campbellton, New Brunswick August 5, 2013 after an incident in which an African rock python escaped its enclosure, got into the store's ventilation system and apparently strangled two young boys as they slept. Picture taken August 5, 2013. REUTERS/Tim Jaques/The Tribune/Telegraph Journal