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Continued: Python's strangling of 2 boys in Canada investigated; expert says snake may have been spooked

  • Article by: ROB GILLIES , Associated Press
  • Last update: August 6, 2013 - 9:25 PM

Loyst noted the boys had been playing with other animals hours earlier and he believes their scent might have attracted the snake.

Paul Goulet, founder and co-owner of Little Ray's Reptile Zoo in Ottawa, said snakes don't recognize humans as a source of food, but if the children smelled like animals, it could explain an attack.

"If a snake sees an animal moving, giving off heat and smells like a goat, what is it? It's a goat," Goulet said. "The reasonable explanation of how this has happened is that they had been playing with farm animals, they did smell like their prey items and the snake sadly enough mistook them as a food item when they weren't."

Rose said the kids had played with llamas, goats, horses and dogs and cats just a few hours earlier.

The town's deputy mayor, Ian Comeau, said the Reptile Ocean shop was licensed to operate and "everything was according to our bylaws, to the provincial guidelines." He said he saw alligators, crocodiles and snakes when he toured the shop with the fire department about two years ago.

Snake expert John Kendrick, a manager at the Reptile Store in Hamilton, Ontario, said it sounds like the python was not enclosed properly and might have been spooked. He called the strangling deaths "very unusual" but said African rock pythons tend to be a little more high-strung.

"It's very odd that one would go out and seek out a person. They don't recognize us as food," he said.

Pythons can sense heat, and if they are startled they can grab something, Kendrick said. He said snakes are very long and their muscles run lengthwise through their body, so they are not very stable unless they are holding on to something.

"A snake that size that was just trying to hold on securely enough to make sure he felt like he wasn't falling or going anywhere; he has enough muscle power to cut off circulation," he said.

It's possible that the python was just holding on to what it landed on, Kendrick said.

"Once they are in constricting mode, any part of their body that is touching something that moves, they'll wrap it," he said. "I've seen snakes with two different prey items at the same time, one with the back of the body and one with the front. It could have been an incident like that."

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