Police and witnesses say there were children in a southern Ontario motel room where 40 pythons were seized.
A guest in a neighbouring room at the Brantford, Ont., motel said Friday the residents had five young children with them.
The motel guest, who did not want to give his name, said one of the children was a baby.
The reptiles — ranging in length from 30 centimetres to 1.4 metres — were found in several plastic storage bins in the motel room on Thursday night, police said.
“The snakes were not being suitably cared for and were in distress,” police said.
Owning a python is illegal in Brantford as it contravenes the city’s animal control bylaw.
Police did not specify the ages of the children and said no charges had been laid by Friday evening.
Officers were still investigating, along with the Brant County SPCA, police said.
The snakes belonged to a local couple who stayed at the room for only one night, a manager at the Bell City Motel said Friday.
The couple were out for dinner on Thursday evening when police arrived, said the manager, who asked that his name not be used.
The owners had been evicted by their landlord, he said, who had subsequently called police to inform them the snakes were at the motel.
A spokesperson for the Brant County SPCA said the snakes are male and female ball pythons.
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.
The snakes were deemed to be in distress, said Brandon James, animal cruelty inspector at the Brant County SPCA.
“The overcrowding and the lack of water was the main concern at that point,” he said.
Otherwise the animals seemed to be docile and in good health, he said, adding they’re not regarded as a danger to the public.
“It’s not the type that was involved in the New Brunswick issues, which I think everyone is kind of thinking when there’s a large exotic snake removal,” he said. “But I haven’t had any issues with these snakes, they’re very well handled.”
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 rules covering exotic animals in the wake of the New Brunswick deaths.