This time, it's not an impostor: Missing python finally found months after vanishing

An elusive snake embroiled in a case of mistaken identity involving a second missing python has finally been found — in his owner's basement.

Monty the python was found hiding out in his owner's basement

Samantha Sannella says her family's snake, Monty, had been living in their basement for months. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

An elusive python embroiled in a case of mistaken identity involving a second missing snake has finally been found — in his owner's basement.

Monty the python, who made headlines last summer when he went missing from his Toronto home, was found on Monday. Owner Samantha Sannella told CBC News that he had been hiding out in the family's basement for months.

"He just found a nice dark spot and was hanging out there," she said. "We'd almost given up on him."

Monty vanished on June 13 when he got out of his enclosure. His family thought he'd been found in July, when a passerby saw a ball python at an Esso gas station about three kilometres from their east-end home.

Toronto Fire Services found the snake poking out of a sewer grate near Victoria Park and Danforth avenues. It was handed over to animal control, which arranged for a reunion with the family.

Monty, who went missing over the summer, has finally been reunited with his owners. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

There was just one problem: It wasn't their snake. The family realized after about a week that this reptile was bigger, stronger and had different patterns on its scales. Ball pythons are non-venomous constrictors that typically grow to be about 1.2 metres long. 

"[Monty] is about half the size of the other one, but of course I didn't pay that much attention, I guess," Sannella said.

Her son, who was closest with their original pet, realized it was an impostor. That second snake — dubbed Sneaky Pete — was handed back to animal control before being sent to an animal sanctuary.

Toronto Animal Services says it has responded to 34 calls for stray snakes since the start of 2017. Another seven have been surrendered by their owners in that time.

All this left the family wondering what happened to the real Monty. They tried several ways of tracking him down, including setting up a hunting camera in the basement and even playing "snake charmer music," as Sannella calls it.

"I know it sounds ridiculous but it works for a lot of people, so maybe it would work for him too," she said.

"I had just given up pretty much, but I suspected he was still in the house."

The Sannella family realized they had the wrong snake after comparing the distinctive spots on Monty in an old photograph and the pattern on the snake they dubbed Sneaky Pete. (Submitted by Samantha Sannella)

All hope seemed lost — until Monday, when Sannella's youngest son opened a cabinet in the basement.

"All of a sudden, I heard this blood-curdling scream," she said. "My son was a little freaked out because he opened the cabinet and came nose-to-nose with it, and of course was not expecting it."

Ball pythons can go months without food, but Sannella said she has no idea where Monty found water.

Now, the real (we think) Monty is back in his rightful home. Sannella said he will likely be on the move again soon to go live with her other son, who is now going to school at the University of Guelph.

"I'm very happy to know it's not loose in the house somewhere," she said.

About the Author

Adam Carter


Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at

With files from Talia Ricci


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.