Pythons seized in Brantford belonged to family, witnesses say

A family with several children was staying in the Brantford, Ont., motel room where authorities seized 40 ball pythons this week, witnesses say.

Chidren's aid was called in, but is no longer investigating

40 pythons that were discovered in a Brantford, Ont., motel, have been seized by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 2:28

A family with several children was staying in the Brantford, Ont., motel room where authorities seized 40 ball pythons this week, witnesses say.

On Thursday, police found the snakes in five bins at the Bell City Motel on Colborne Street in Brantford, which is located about 100 kilometres southwest of Toronto.

The snakes belonged to a local couple who stayed at the room for only one night, a manager at the motel told The Canadian Press. They were out Thursday evening when police arrived, said the manager, who asked that his name not be used.

Paul Sizer, a guest in a neighbouring room at the Bell City Motel, said the couple had five young children, including a baby.

"The first night I was afraid of [the snakes] getting out and coming after me," he told CBC News on Friday.

Sgt. Rick Ryerse, of the Brantford police, said children's aid had been called to investigate the situation, but said he didn't know how many kids the couple had.

No charges have been laid, he said, adding the probe is now in the hands of the SPCA. 

Children's aid told CBC News they are no longer involved in the investigation.

'Overcrowded conditions'

Police discovered the pythons, which are illegal to own in Brantford, on Thursday as part of a separate investigation.

"Early [Thursday] evening, the Brantford police called us to come out and assist with a large number of snakes they had found," said Brandon James, spokesman for the Brant County SPCA. "When we arrived, we found very overcrowded conditions with approximately 40 snakes."

James said he had "never seen a load of snakes this large in Brant County and I've been doing this for 10 years."

All of the snakes were ball pythons, James said. The largest was estimated to be 1.3 metres long. There were snakes of various sizes including some that were less than a foot long. There were also about half a dozen unhatched eggs in the bins.

The snakes were in distress because of the cramped conditions and lack of water, but had recently been fed, according to James.

"I don't know how long they were in those tote containers for, but it's very stressful for the snakes."

The pythons were in the care of the Brant County SPCA Friday and transported to a reptile facility somewhere in Ontario in the early evening. James would not say where they were going.

Docile temperament

The ball python is the smallest of the African pythons and is popular among pet owners because of its docile temperament.

Ball pythons got their name because they roll themselves into a tight ball, tucking their head inside their coils, when threatened.

Brandon James, of the Brant County SPCA, holds one the 40 ball pythons that was seized at a Brantford motel on Thursday evening. (Cory Ruf/CBC) (Cory Ruf/CBC)

Earlier this month, two young brothers were killed by a python while sleeping at a friend's house in Campbellton, N.B.

Noah Barthe, 4, and his brother Connor, 6, died after a 45-kg African rock python escaped its enclosure.

The same night the snakes were seized in Brantford, another ball python was captured in Hamilton after police were flagged down by a person who had seen a snake in a bush.

The metre-long snake was spotted in some bushes, police said, and was recovered by animal control officers.

The Ontario government has said it is looking into the rules covering exotic animals in the wake of the New Brunswick deaths.