British Columbia

Ball python set loose in Surrey park, recovered by crews

More and more snakes being dumped in Metro Vancouver parks, says rescue society.

More and more snakes being dumped in Metro Vancouver parks, says rescue society

This ball python was spotted inside Tynehead Regional Park in Surrey on Wednesday afternoon and recovered Thursday. (Paul Peterson/Facebook)

An exotic snake set loose inside Tynehead Regional Park in Surrey, B.C., has been rescued after it was spotted by a surprised hiker Wednesday afternoon.

Search crews from the district and the Westcoast Reptile Education Society hit the ground at about 11:30 a.m. on Thursday after the sighting was reported.

They found the animal in just 45 minutes.

The snake has since been identified as a ball python, a species native to West and Central Africa.

"Because it's such a low temperature right now, the snake isn't going to move much," said Hastur McKay, an administrator with WRES. "They are used to quite [warmer] temperatures than there are here."

A growing problem

McKay says the snake was undersized for its age, suggesting poor treatment from a previous owner. Ball pythons are popular pets and can live upwards of 30 years.

The long lifespan can be too much for some owners to handle, leading a few to dump them illegally in parks and wilderness areas, McKay said.

"We are seeing this happen more and more, especially with the ball python," said McKay. "People keep dropping them at Burnaby Lake and Deer Lake, those kind of areas. They seem to be very popular dumping grounds, especially when it starts getting hotter because people think it will be able to survive there, but it's still usually not hot enough around these times for them to make it in our climate."

Owners considering getting rid of their snakes are urged to reach out local reptile societies, rather than abandon them.

Meanwhile, the recovered ball python is now being cared for.

"It's a happy ending, and the snake will be found a suitable home to live out the rest of its days," said Don Bradley, a spokesperson with Metro Vancouver.

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