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Exotic pets

Snakes alive -- and residents aren't happy Add to ...

A pair of Toronto police officers became honorary snake charmers this week as they responded to calls from two west-end residents about unwelcome visits from the reptiles.

Just after 11 p.m. on Monday, the officers found a three-foot-long corn snake in the apartment building at 190 Woolner Ave., near Jane Street and St. Clair Avenue West. Less than 24 hours later, on Tuesday night, the same officers arrived at a nearby building to find a ball python had emerged from a resident’s toilet.

“There were no injuries in either case, but it was obviously traumatic for the homeowners,” said Constable Tony Vella, adding neither snake is considered dangerous.

In both cases, the snakes were removed by Animal Services, but not before one of the police officers had picked one up herself. “Some officers are very comfortable with dogs,” Constable Vella said. “I guess this officer felt very comfortable with snakes.”

The snakes are the second and third to be found in the city over a span of just two days, said Mary Lou Leiher, who is a supervisor with Toronto Animal Services. The organization typically gets five or six calls about snakes in a year.

Early Monday afternoon, another snake was found in the backyard of a home near Parliament Street and Gerrard Street East. The carpet python spent two restful days at Reptilia, a reptile zoo in Vaughan, before it was reunited with its owner on Wednesday.

The other two snakes are still at Reptilia. Police say it seems likely they belong to the same person, but no one has come forward to claim them yet.

Andre Ngo, zoo co-ordinator at Reptilia, said reptiles are the fastest growing segment of the exotic pet industry because they tend to be easy to care for. But, he added, it only takes a small mistake for a snake to break free.

“Snakes really are masters of escape,” he said. “But it’s a rough world out there in the city.”

Ms. Leiher said none of the three snakes is prohibited in Toronto because they aren’t venomous and don’t typically grow to be very large. She said anyone who finds a snake should stay away from it and call Animal Services.

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