Boa constrictors in Yellowknife seeking permanent homes

At least five snakes in Yellowknife are in search of permanent homes, leaving the Great Slave Animal Hospital at 'exotic pet capacity.'

Great Slave Animal Hospital has 3 snakes, at least 2 more on offer from private residents

Stella, a 1.2 metre long boa constrictor, is one of at least five snakes in Yellowknife in search of a new home. (Hilary Bird/CBC)

An influx of unwanted boa constrictors has left Yellowknife's animal hospital at "exotic pet capacity," and more of the snakes in search of permanent homes.

Donovan Hayward adopted a boa constrictor named Stella from a friend who couldn't take care of her anymore. On Sunday, he posted an ad on Facebook, hoping to find her a permanent home.

"It's a pretty good bond," says Hayward, on his relationship with the 1.2 metre long reptile. "It's kind of like owning a dog or cat. You grow attached to it."

But Stella's not the only boa looking for a new address. A day earlier, a similar post to Hayward's appeared on Facebook. This time, the unwanted boa was 2.4 metres long — nearly eight feet. Just last week, a 1.5 metre boa was surrendered to the Great Slave Animal Hospital, raising the total number of snakes in their care to three.

The hospital, which has also taken in a large, metre-long lizard called a tegu, is now at capacity when it comes to exotic reptiles, which doesn't surprise Hayward.

"They get it because they think it's a cool thing," he says. "But after a while, they're like: 'ah, I don't really want it anymore.' It's a lot of work."

Some jurisdictions in Canada, including the provinces of British Columbia and Saskatchewan, have restrictions and regulations concerning the ownership of large constricting snakes. Currently, the City of Yellowknife only regulates dogs.

Hayward says council should expand the regulations to include less traditional pets, in the hopes that boas like Stella end up in good homes, and fewer exotic animals end up at animal hospitals or the SPCA.

Until then, though, he'll continue search for Stella's perfect habitat.

"Everybody's just saying oh, you should send her to the SPCA, but I don't want that," he says. "I want to try to get her a home first. But if I can't, then she's going to have to go to the SPCA."


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