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Python experts vexed by questions about New Brunswick tragedy

Pathologist’s report expected to shed more light on what happened to brothers, and why


 

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press)

Thicker than a man’s bicep and longer than two Shaquille O’Neals, an African rock python can survive on just two or three good meals a year. But when it does decide to eat—an antelope, perhaps, or maybe a monkey—the chosen meal has no chance. With fishhook fangs and a split-second strike, the snake snaps its prey, wraps itself into a tight coil, and never lets go. “It’s not suffocation,” says Johan Marais, a leading snake expert based in South Africa. “What they actually do is put pressure on the chest region and prevent the blood from going from one chamber of the heart to the other. They induce cardiac arrest.”

Then they swallow their supper whole.

It was that nasty breed of snake—an African rock python, 14 feet long and 99 lb.—that apparently slithered out of its glass aquarium this week and killed two beautiful little boys in Campbellton, N.B.: Connor Barthe, 6, and his four-year-old brother, Noah. They were spending a Sunday night at a friend’s second-floor apartment, sleeping side-by-side on the living-room floor. An exotic pet store owned by their pal’s dad was directly below them, but the giant reptile, supposedly locked up tight, wasn’t in the store. It was actually inside the apartment. “The snake was confined, in a closed area, in a glass cage,” said RCMP Sgt. Alain Tremblay. “It was specifically done for the snake. It went right up to the ceiling.”

What happened inside that living room has horrified the country, triggered countless headlines around the world, and left many Canadians asking the same question: Why does anyone need a massive, lethal snake as a household pet? (For the record, African rock pythons are illegal in New Brunswick, as they are in some other provinces, but that breach seems to have gone unnoticed at Reptile Ocean.) But as investigators continue to comb through the evidence—including the “crime scene,” as Tremblay described the apartment—other, far more troubling questions remain unanswered. For some who have spent their lives studying pythons, the story so far is almost unbelievable. “I’m really skeptical about what exactly happened,” Marais says. “It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

It appears, the Mounties say, that the snake escaped from its cage through a small hole in the ceiling, then slinked its way into a ventilation duct. Once over the living room, the duct gave way, sending a portion of the ceiling—and the huge snake—plummeting to the floor. Jean-Claude Savoie, the owner of the pet shop, told detectives he woke up shortly after 6 a.m. to check on the boys, only to stumble upon a “horrific scene”: two dead children, and his snake nearby. Apparently, Savoie’s pet crashing through the ceiling wasn’t enough to wake him up.

Neither, it seems, did any cries for help from the Barthe brothers. Snake expert John Kendrick, a manager at the Reptile Store in Hamilton, says a bite from an African rock python would jolt anyone from his slumber, screaming in unthinkable pain. “If a snake is going to constrict and coil, it’s biting first,” he says. “That’s what they do. They bite to hold and then immediately go into a spin to coil their prey.” Would one brother’s screams not have woken up the other? Or someone else inside the apartment? (Savoie’s son was also there, asleep in another room.) “I’ve gone through those same thoughts in my head,” Kendrick says.

Though extremely uncommon, African rock pythons do attack humans. In 1999, a three-year-old Illinois boy was squeezed to death after his dad’s snake escaped from its glass enclosure. Three years later, in Utah, a python managed to coil around a mother and daughter at the same time, only to be pried loose by quick-thinking police armed with a pair of scissors. But in most instances, however rare, the human target is a potential meal. The Barthe brothers, it appears, were not. “Snakes won’t kill people just for the hell of it,” Marais says. “There is no snake that has malice in it that would intentionally go out and kill people and waste energy on it.”

Kendrick, like his fellow experts, does not want to jump to conclusions. He will wait for the RCMP to finish its investigation before passing judgment. But he can’t fathom why a python would crush one boy, crush the other, and eat neither. “For a snake to just kill something and walk away from it, it’s very rare,” he says. “To finish killing one and go and kill another one—then go away—I wouldn’t even put that as odds of one in a million.”

A pathologist has performed autopsies on both boys, and a report is expected in the coming days. It is sure to shed more light on what happened to the brothers, and why. “This is not a standard case, and I readily admit that,” Sgt. Tremblay told a packed news conference. “It’s an absolute tragedy for the family, what has occurred.” One reporter asked if police are exploring the possibility that the snake may not be the culprit. “As police officers in this type of investigation, we try not to focus on only one thing,” Tremblay replied. “We try to get a complete overview of the scene. But at this point, we do believe the snake is involved.”
The experts, like everyone, are anxious for the proof.


 
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Python experts vexed by questions about New Brunswick tragedy

  1. Canadians are stranger than fiction sometimes.

    • What ?

    • Make up your mind.
      Is this opinion coming from SFO, or YUL?

      I’m hoping SFO. Stay there with the boyz..

    • You’re even stranger for making that comment. I’m a Canadian and I have no idea what your comment is infering

    • And Americans as ignorant and arrogant as usual.

      • I agree without a doubt. That’s why I’m Canadian FIRST.

  2. I think the snake here is as much a victim as the two boys. Something else happened entirely.

    • I agree. The snake should have been left in the jungle where it belongs. The snake is a victim, too. Humans need to smarten up!!

      • Well snakes or other creatures can be in zoos, but snakes shouldn’t be pets anymore than lions.

        In any human/animal conflict the animal always gets executed, which really bugs me.

        • I don’t even agree with zoos…wildlife refuges/sancuaries ok but they shouldn’t be kept in cages. And yes, EmilyOne, the animal always loses. :(

          • I was reading about someone the other day that said zoos were once the only way to learn about wildlife….but that we don’t need them anymore and they should be phased out. I’d go along with that. Best ‘zoo’ idea I ever saw is ‘African lion safari’…..people are on buses….the animals roam free.

            Always bugged me that even in a bullfight…if the bull ‘wins’ ….they kill it anyway! If people wander into the woods and get attacked by a bear…..they hunt the bear down and kill it. On it’s own territory!

            Purely ‘revenge.’ They might not even get the right bear….but honour has apparently been satisfied.

          • I completely agree… also Busch Gardens. They are in their natual habitat or as close as it can get. Hate the bullfights, horse racing, greyhound racing, the circus..all of it. These animals don’t want to be there…only there as a commodity and when they are no longer of value, they are killed. Look at the tigers used in shows in Las Vegas. They get annoyed, swat at someone and get put down for hurting a human. They kill alligators in Florida for attacking a human but it was the humans who thought it would be fun to “feed the gator”! Alligators don’t attack humans. They would swim away first…just like snakes, bears, cougars or anything else. They want to get away first….attack if confronted.

          • Yeah even a mouse will face an attacker if cornered….and it stands no chance at all

            But we put animals in impossible situations….and are then surprised when they behave normally.

            I always thought bullfighting was the most cowardly thing to do….talk about stacking the deck!

          • I know. The animal always loses…. :(

          • I think everyone here talking about animal rights, zoos, and the poor victim snake, should take this conversation elsewhere and have some respect for the young boys who lost their lives and their grieving family.

          • No one asked for your opinion, Chelsea. This conversation was between EmilyOne and I. We expressed our regret for the children. It is a horrible thing that happened but if it weren’t for the humans taking animals out of their natural habitat this wouldn’t have happened. Please express yourself elsewhere….you were not invited. Maybe you should place your negativity on the adults that are responsible for these poor little boys losing their lives.

          • I apologize. I didn’t realize you were trying to have a private conversation on a page that is open for anyone to view/reply.

          • My point was that you should direct your anger at the people responsible. As I said, it was a horrible tragedy that could have been prevented. It is not fair to the children or the animals. Anyone can post their opinions but we were expressing our frustration with the animal being put in an environment that it does not belong and when it acts the way it was born to, it gets killed. You are free to post anything you want but not to deny us our opinion and perspective on the situation.

      • My fiancee recently decided he wanted a snake for a pet after his cat died a premature death. I’m against pet snake regardless of breed for these possible risks. I’ve got him almost down to Iguana or Gecko.

        • What does the death of your fiance’s cat have to do with the tragic death of these two boys? I’m sure if the family of the boys were reading through these comments, they would find this one very sympathetic to their situation and would really appreciate your contribution.

          • Chelsea-are you bullying everyone on this post? Please post your thoughts and feelings relevant to the topic and leave everyone else alone.

  3. Something stinks here. They latch onto the prey with their jaws first, then squeeze the life out of them. There should be several seconds in which the victim could sream out. And who wouldn’t scream with snake fangs plunging into them? And the second boy? Was he not awakened by the struggle of the first? No way. That snake sounds more like a patsy than the actual killer.

    One reporter asked if police are exploring the possibility that the snake may not be the culprit.
    No kidding.

    • I totally agree, I thought it was a misprint when I first heard about it, something stinks here, a snake eats what it constricts unless it found they were too big to swallow but I doubt that!

      • and if its too big they at least make an attempt to eat it and spit it out, I have many and have never seen them not bite when constricting, something is fishy I smell some stench and I think its odd how a bunch of pictures of the boys running around in their underwear show up from the guys house, idk but if it was my kids and I found out they went to a friends house and were having pictures taken of them in their underwear at a guys house I would be pissed. and seriously questioning what he has going on upstairs!!!!!!

      • The snake could have recently been fed-they don’t eat very often. But why did it kill them? This is a very bizarre story. Hopefully the RCMP/autopsies will reveal more….

    • You can call out if you’re being suffocated by a python. Get some brains, AH!

      • They certainly would cry out when the snake first bit them, which pythons always do to anchor themselves prior to restricting their prey.

        Snake expert John Kendrick, a manager at the Reptile Store in Hamilton, says a bite from an African rock python would jolt anyone from his slumber, screaming in unthinkable pain. “If a snake is going to constrict and coil, it’s biting first,” he says. “That’s what they do. They bite to hold and then immediately go into a spin to coil their prey.” Would one brother’s screams not have woken up the other? Or someone else inside the apartment?
        Also, pythons don’t suffocate, they restrict the heart and induce cardiac arrest. So the pathologist’s ruling of asphyxication (reported after the above story was filed) creates more doubt.

        “It’s not suffocation,” says Johan Marais, a leading snake expert based in South Africa. “What they actually do is put pressure on the chest region and prevent the blood from going from one chamber of the heart to the other. They induce cardiac arrest.”

        It appears the experts share my non-belief in this story.
        “I’m really skeptical about what exactly happened,” Marais says. “It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
        Try reading the article before telling someone else to get some brains.

        • Yeah and the CIA blew up the WTC buildings too… Forget flaky conspiracy theories. You don’t know enough facts to say anything with certainty about this situation. Neither do any so-called experts.

  4. When I was a young boy, having sleep overs with friends. We typically slept in the same room, stayed up all night, got up to trouble etc. I cant recall an instance where I would sleep in my own room and my friend elsewhere during a sleepover or vic versa in their homes. To me, this seems like one more strange part of this story.

    • It does appear to be staged

  5. Rather purple prose, Maclean’s.

  6. Our deepest Condolences to the Parent’s.

    • Nice thought, but condolences to one or *both* “parents”????
      One parent, two parents.

  7. maybe its just a lie

  8. I think the boys were killed in the cage and moved…making it look like an accident…too neat and convenient, not to mention no supervision upstairs, bs, and the father gone this particular weekend…hmmm can anyone say Life Insurance. It reeks…

    • Jack Freeman has upped the ante first laid out by all the “snake expert” commenters; he has positioned himself as a “forensics expert” as well.

      • Yep! I’ve seen all these old Agatha Christie murder mysteries!

        In each case, there was only ONE conclusion: “The snake did it!”

    • Does anyone know if there was life insurance on the children, and the amount?
      We have 10,000 on each of our 2 still in our home. Now that would barely cover a funeral and a stone. However, some people feel that we should have larger insurances on children, so we do not have to worry about work, and bills etc. during such grief. How would anyone function?
      My point is if they have only small policies, than it does not really create motive.
      Now, where are these pics of children in underwear, while no woman are present? That is another story.
      Suffocation versus cardiac arrest> interesting. Can one hide as the other?
      Personally, I believe there is conspiracy’s out there, especially, when there is more than one unusual factor. I truly believe the mom loved these boys, but why would she leave them anywhere near a snake? Much less the other animals that were there? May the boys rest in perfect peace, they will never know the pain of this world.

  9. In describing the way a python kills, the expert says: “It’s not suffocation … They induce cardiac arrest.” On the other hand, the autopsy showed that the children were asphyxiated [i.e. suffocated]. The police need to reconcile the disconnect between the expert’s knowledge of python behaviour and the coroner’s finding. Indeed, something stinks.

  10. The autopsy will be conclusive. The coil cant be replicated by humans.

  11. Theoretically the bodies would have 1) at least one bite mark 2) extensive bruising caused by the constriction and this bruising would be mostly about the torso 3) fractured or broken bones. These three items are trademarks of constriction by a python. I would be extremely skeptical if any of the three were missing. And as the experts in reptiles have stated, a python does not constrict one, then move on to another victim. It just isn’t in their instinctual nature. Something is very wrong with what we are being told.

    • I don’t think it is strange that the snake may have constricted one boy and then moved to the other. Snakes get aggressive while they are feeding and will strike at you if try to interrupt them. I have seen my python strike at a mouse while already feeding on one and then divert it’s focus completely to the second one, ignoring the first. Maybe in this case the snake bit the smaller boy first, and then moved on to the bigger boy when he was trying to save his brother but was unable to eat him due to his size, and at that point was no longer interested in eating the smaller boy.

      I will agree with you though that these boys both must have at least one bite mark from the snake because these snakes always bite before constricting. If they were not bitten or bruised, then this is very suspect.

      In any case this is a tragedy and my heart goes out to the boys’ family.

      • But no boy was eaten.

        • Lisa you should read more carefully next time before commenting. I never state that either boy was eaten, and in fact am giving an explanation for how it is possible that both boys were constricted by the serpent but neither was eaten.

          • I apologise, I think I was asking why constrict the children when the snake did not try to eat one. The experts say they only do this to eat one.

          • Right. I own a python and have seen them constrict mice without eating them, as I said in my previous post. I know that snakes must always BITE to constrict their prey but they won’t necessarily eat them afterwards especially if there are other prey or distractions around.

  12. I am with the experts. A tragedy indeed that two children lost their lives. But how is the question. And that snake should not have been euthanized. A quick knee jerk reaction that in my opinion is disgusting.

    • Pythons are illegal in New Brunswick Jason but I agree it might seem cruel to punish an animal for doing what it does instinctively. On this occasion though I suspect they needed to see if the snake had eaten recently and therefore needed to put it down.

    • your concern for the welfare of the snake is touching. where do you suggest it should have gone after it killed two children. there would not be a line up of qualified zoos wanting to take it.

      • I am with the experts. A tragedy indeed that two children lost their lives. But how is the question. And that snake should not have been euthanized. A quick knee jerk reaction that in my opinion is disgusting.

  13. Maybe these snake “experts” don’t know as much about these snakes as they think they know. Either that or they are in denial blaming someone else, not the snake, so that their own snake ownership is not brought into question. These reptiles belong in the wild in their native habitat, not as toys for some idiot that puts the community at risk.

    • Or maybe there is a little more to the story than the conclusion everyone has jumpted to! Did you read the autopsy report, death by suffocation/asphyxiation not cardiac arrest!! And there are many reptiles in every community of which you hear very little about. Maybe they are not as dangerous as the whole media circus is making it out to be. I sure get bitten by my cat a lot more than my Boa (which btw is 7 years old, and has never bitten anyone)

    • You just wanna blame the snake, don’t you?
      Gosh! That’s right! The “Bible” says that snakes are in league with the devil!
      Better not take any chances! Kill ’em all, and let god sort them out.

      • the snake cannot be blamed for being a snake but the foolish humans who allowed it to enter the country and live in a family home are absolutely to blame.

  14. once saw a tv show, the python’s teeth are pointed backwards and once the snake bites,it cannot open it’s jaws to let loose.the teeth once locked onto it’s prey only allows the swallowing of the prey.
    same show, saw a police officer bitten on the arm,a struggle took place,help arrived.the office was not able to extract his arm as the teeth where pointed backwards and locked.
    the jaws where opened by the help that arrivedand the police officer had to push his arm to the back of the snakes jaws to slide off the teeth and only then could he remove his arm

    • Not true, constrictors will bite to allow for coiling around the prey, usually after the prey is deceased they will open and adjust the jaws to allow for proper entry of the carcass into the mouth whole. But the backwards pointing teeth (multiple rows) does prevent the prey from wiggling loose and getting away.

      • nick is correct the constrictor will reposition it’s hold on the dead prey so the body of the prey doesn’t double up preventing swallowing or the the appendages catch so this generally means head first.I have seen snakes take up to a few minutes after death of the prey to get the prey lined up perfectly

      • I have many garter snakes around my property (cute l’il guys but they DO bite – I’ve been bitten a coupla times).
        But twice I’ve come across a snake just STARTING to swallow- once a frog and once a toad. I stupidly intervened, and somehow managed to pry the frog or toad out of the snake’s mouth.
        The snake gave me a disgusted look, and slithered off.
        But the poor amphibians..! They were a bloody mess. In each case, I dropped them off in a nearby stream, and hoped for the best. Not sure if they ultimately survived.
        I have now learned that once the snake starts to swallow, don’t interfere. Just let it do its thing.
        Next time I’ll video the action.

        • Why on earth would you do that? So, the frog/toad’s life was more important than the snake’s? You interrupted the NATURAL circle of life by preventing an animal from eating it’s prey, which it needs to survive! How would you like it if every time you went to eat a burger or a salad and some idiot walked up to you and took the fork out of your hand and walked off with your food? Idiot!!

          • Re my….I have now learned that once the snake starts to swallow, don’t interfere. Just let it do its thing.

            Don’t be so holier-than-thou, creep. I do not need a lecture from a naturenazi.

            There’s lots of garter snakes around here, as well as certain species of turtles on my rural road usually before sunset, getting warmth from the pavement. I usually stop and shove them off the road so that idiots will not (sometimes deliberately) run them over.
            But, I’ll take your advice and leave them them on the road so that folks like you can run them over.. Let nature take its course.

            In any event there have been very few toads around here the last 3 or 4 years. Not that you would notice. Are you a herpetologist?

          • I would hardly call people hitting turtles with cars to be nature taking it’s course, so that doesn’t really apply. Kudos for taking the time to help them, though. As for the toads, if the garters are indigenous to your area, then maybe you should look elsewhere for what is causing the toad problem. I’m far from being a naturenazi, I just don’t see the point in prying food out of an animal’s mouth, in the wild. It would be a different story if we were talking about a gator trying to eat the family pet or trying to stop an invasive species from destroying an indigenous species, but that isn’t what you were talking about. If you were though, I will rescind my comment.

          • As I reply to you now, I hear coyotes in the distance. Beautiful howls.

            I bark back, if only to warn them to stay their distance. It’s late Sat-nite: wine helps the loud replies.

            And I, of course worry about my cats.- five- two from my daughter (rescue kittens),who moved out later (“Daddy? please take care of them!) and the other three dumped here by “townies”, who either do not not understand how to neuter a domestic cat, or are too cheap (some of them drive Lexuses) to get the damn cat fixed.
            Anyhow, don’t know much about gators or crocs- that’s a Florida problem – But-

            As I said, I LEARNED MY LESSON, SH!THEAD. SO STFU. Next time I’ll let the snake (and amphibian) do their dance of death. And video it.

            And please don’t lecture me about my cats destroying all the “song” birds. Hey if the bird doesn’t sweetly sing, is it OK for my cat to eat it? Grrr…city people!
            And the cats, if lucky, bag maybe one bird a week. Usually it’s a dumb English sparrow.
            But the mice, squirrels and other rat-attic rodents.. wow!
            Kill them over-breeders, Puss!
            ,

          • As someone with 4 cats myself (all rescues), the only thing I would say about that is please be cautious. One of ours was outside a few months ago and managed to get a hold of a mouse or rat that had been poisoned and nearly died. Broke my heart watching him stumble around the house the next day, walking into walls and falling over on his side due to neurological issues from rat poison. 3 days at the vet, an IV and nearly 400 dollars later and he is well, but we don’t let them outside anymore. I hate it as they do love to get outside and roll around in the dirt, but not a chance I wish to take again. I love my animals and it sounds as you do, also, so I wish you well.
            Also, I live in Florida, so I’ve had my share of run ins with gators.
            Sorry for getting upset about your initial comment but I have seen my fair share of people getting stupid with wildlife, so it does bother me. You say you learned your lesson, so I’ll leave it at that.

    • “once saw a tv show…” Get in line with all the other “snake experts.”

  15. “Snake expert John Kendrick, a manager at the Reptile Store in Hamilton…”

    It appears that anyone who owns a snake or sells snakes is now considered by the media to be an expert on the behaviour of all species of snakes.
    That seems to be part of the problem in this sad story. So-called snake experts are not as expert as they put themselves out to be. Good heavens, if I were a vet who dealt exclusively with farm animals, I probably wouldn’t declare myself an expert on the behaviour of all animals, wild as well as domestic.

    • For some who have spent their lives studying pythons, the story so far is almost unbelievable. “I’m really skeptical about what exactly happened,” Marais says. “It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
      Not sure about Kendrick, but Marais spent his life studying pythons. Does that not qualify as a snake expert under your rigourous certification guidelines? Marais has as much doubts about this story as Kendrick does.

    • Lots of people own pets and don’t have a clue so I can’t see how these ‘pet’ owners would be any different. I have even less faith in their knowledge or respect for animals if they illegally import, cage and expose unsuspecting communities with their indulgent behavior.

  16. …Is this article serious?

    “Thicker than a man’s bicep and longer than two Shaquille O’Neals…”

    If that phrasing is Macleans’ idea of a slight taste of humor, I consider the writer a joke. Don’t get me wrong, I can actually take a joke, but seriously… You’re using “Thicker than a man’s bicep and longer than two Shaquille O’Neals” in a tragic story? Michael’s got balls.

  17. This has Alfred Hichcock written all over it. Why did the snake not attempt to swallow the boys??? Why did they not scream??? Why did the police not find the boys covered in saliva?? I’m assuming there are bite marks? African rock Pythons have dozens of razor sharp teeth.. where is the bite??!! This case Stinks!

  18. I too await the findings of the autopsy…yet, a snake expert did say that if such a snake is surprised, it will just clamp on (not with teeth) …he said that an 8 ft drop from the ceiling would activate a snake’s defences, including twisting to get its bearings, and that anything it fell on could have come to grief…no coiling and constricting…there are a few videos on youtube that show a rock python lashing out, in just this way… it is conceivable BUT by the time the police had arrived, the owner had changed the crime scene (including single-handedly pinning the snake and putting it in a cage)…evidence tampering,,,,

    • What did you expect the owner to do? Let the snake roam free until the first responders got there??

      • yours is a really good question…yet…Savoie seems to have had a knack for dealing with this snake….he *could* have waited so that the cops could witness the crime-scene untouched….as it is , we have to trust his word… if everything he says is true, he must have been very upset and not thinking like a lawyer!

        also I find it hard to understand how he could move snake single-handedly…watch the youtube videos…you’ll see what i mean

        • Vicki well put. Yes he would be in shock, it does make sense to take any other human being alive out of the apartment and call police. I am sure someone knew how to find the snake.
          Where is the other child? Have the police said that there were no bite marks> No saliva? This is unreal.

  19. Well after reading this article you can’t help but wonder what the true story is…did the snake owner do something horrible with the boys and tried to cover it up with the snake? is there another illegal snake that may have bitten the boys, which the made the owner try to feed the boys to the python to hide the facts? There is many horrible possibilities one can imagine, some more realistic then others. All this doesn’t remove the fact that there was an illegal snake.

    I have spoken over the years with an number of snake/reptile owners and I am sorry to say that many, if not most, feel such towards reptiles that they feel ALL reptiles should be allowed and they are more then willing to break the law in this regards. Just from what I heard from reptile owners you will likely find plenty of illegal snakes through out Canada.

    These animals are illegal for a reason…they are dangerous, they can escape and kill non snake owners, they can escape and damage the ecology until they die either from the cold winter or old age. If they meet another of their species and start to breed the results for Canada can be terrible!!! I wish more in the reptile business were little more responsible and stopped importing or breeding and selling these animals and or reported to the police those that they know that do so or report those they know that own these animals in general.

    Personal rights is one thing but responsible behavior and the safety of society and the ecology, trumps personal rights.

  20. how can a hundred pound object( Snake in this case) fall 8ft from a ceiling and no one wake up from the thud when it hits the floor

    • exactly

    • I agree with you , that said, I am a very heavy sleeper, would this wake even a heavy sleeper?

  21. They shouldn’t have killed the snake before they got to the truth. Even if they had to waterboard him.

  22. Florida is having numerous problems with these snakes in the wild, why are they legal outside of the country they come from???

    • that is the question i want an answer to, as well. they should never be permitted to cross enter our country. i wonder how many people commenting on the behaviour of this african rock python are herpetologists. any living creature can be unpredictable. people say the same thing about their neighbour, the nice guy, best buddy who murdered a woman and an eight year old boy, then kidnapped a 16 year old girl. people are always shocked when a dog, never mind the breed, kills a member of the family. so out of character. what makes anyone think that they know how this reptile would behave? suddenly we have a whole bunch of african rock python experts. i guess savoie thought he was an expert too.

  23. Feel like we have corrupted, careless government officials who let these dangerous animals to live with human. What a shame!

    • Yeah sure let’s put a camera in every room of every house and monitor for this kind of stuff.

  24. Thicker than a Shaquille O’Neal and able to leap higher than a football fiel… uh, wait a sec!
    Sorry- Als I have never met a phor that I couldn’t mix.
    And they wonder why print journalism, indeed internet journalism as well, is dying…

  25. This doesn’t make sense to me, either. I had pet constrictors when I was a kid: as the article says, they don’t just kill things, they kill them in the course of eating & swallowing them. It makes no sense to me at all that a constrictor would proceed as far as killing one prey critter, then abandoning that and attacking a different one: They don’t kill for fun.

    (Unless we’re talking about a snake with bulimia: Get that snake to a psychiatrist!)

    Seriously, this story just doesn’t hang together.

    • The one possibility that makes sense to me (having had corn snakes — a harmless small constrictor snake) for years is if the snake actually fell right on top of the mattress where the two boys were sleeping, its first instinct would be to grab onto something — not to eat it, but to stabilize itself, and given that the boys were together on the mattress and the snake was so large it could easily have coiled around them both simultaneously. Even the constricting response of a snake getting a grip on something might have been enough to asphyxiate these small children. Con snakes will wrap themselves around your arm, for instance, being attracted to the warmth of the body but their squeeze is not enough to hurt and is only for stability. The squeeze of a 45-kg python stabilizing itself is bound to be quite another story.

      • Amateur herper:

        Think about a snake falling on top of two kids: They are lying down. How could the snake wrap around them without winding around, getting to the mattress, etc.? This is NOT like a snake falling onto a branch, it is like a snake falling onto a log on the ground: It cannot wrap itself around a fallen log in a couple of seconds, and it wouldn’t try, it would just move off.

        I go back to my experience that constrictors only kill when they eat, and they don’t quit in the middle to kill something else.

  26. wait for the autopsy report. i bet there are no snake bites. this just seems to weird. its not snake behaviour.

  27. Is anyone else’s Spidey Sense tingling? No young boys would be separated if staying up all night having “fun” at a sleepover party. His son was sleeping alone off in another part of home n unhurt? Not buying… ALSO in this day age of pervs and pedophiles what the *%&# was the boys’ mom thinking to allow? Who gets up at 6:30 am to check 2 young boys tuckered out from a fun but active day? Perfect set up to alleviate suspicion and use circumstancial series of events to perpetrate “something sinister”… Just saying if it looks and smells like a fish then…

    • I feel the Spidey Sense as well. Slept at friends more than home back before the pervs were roaming in such large numbers, and we never ever slept in different rooms.100lbs of 14 foot long python crashing through a ceiling and no one hears a thing? And I didn’t even think about the part where this guy decides to check on the kids at 6:30am. It just doesn’t sit right, feel right, smell right,,but whatever the horrible truth is,,nothing will console the family of these 2 precious boys :O(

  28. So many opinions here?
    You would think one of the two would have awoke after the other gets bitten?
    I suspect foul play here.
    I always thought that when a constrictor kills it devours after death.
    It doesn’t go after the next meal?
    We will have to hope the cops get to the bottom of this tragedy.
    May the boys RIP,my condolences to the family.
    We do not need exotic animals as pets,remember the Ikea monkey fiasco,they should be banned.

  29. The chances of this being a homicide is much, much greater then a python killing for no reason. Once again, most of you people that are quick to judge and don’t look deeper blame the python. Talk to some experts who understand pythons and their habits!

  30. My heart goes out to the family of the boy’s..that’s what’s important, not the how’s & why’s, & who’s Canadian or not is not relevant….grow up people…get past where people are from…
    Dale

  31. Kelly you got that right. The snake too is a victim – removed from its habitat and tortured that way in a glass container.
    Why should a person take a killer, a deadline animal/reptile to be a friend? This is the flaw of white people – desire to CONTROL. They have to control everything.
    This is pure satanism, wichcraft of some sort – living with snakes as pests. Give me a break.
    My sympathy goes to to the bereaving family. RIP to those little innocent souls so vilolently taken away from this miserable world.

  32. I’m not watching any news on tv nor ready newspaper. I just heard this news from a co-worker of mine. I’m just wondering, where was the boys’ parents when this happened?

  33. Why would the snake kill but not eat the prey? My first impression is that something stinks to high heaven about this story. I believe that the owner of Reptile zoo was in the act of sexually abusing one of the boys when the other saw him, he then strangled and killed both boys at one point or another, then let the snake loose. If coroner did his job correctly he would be looking for signs of sexual abuse, the snakes DNA on the boy’s bodies, bite marks and all other signs of strangulation by snakes. The thing with sexual perverts is that they extremely cunning and devious – I speak from experience. They can hide in plain sight and do their wickedness with people in the next room or even behind a latticework separation. I find it strange that his own son was safe in his bed, but these boys were sleeping in the living room. I also find it strange that Mr. Savoie is yet to make a public statement about the events .

    Also it is mentioned that the owner of Reptile Zoo is friends with the boys father. Not to make a fallacious argument of jumping to conclusion, but sexual predators would often disguise themselves as best friend of the family of young child/children, with their eyes solely trained on the prize and they are capable of maintaining this “friendship” for years”.

    • I hear a lot of pain behind your words… I think a lot of persons are THINKING what you describe and wondering/waiting for the authorities and the investigation to catch up with the TRUTH and facts. Hopefully it is sooner rather than later for justice and resolution for the Barthe boys’ death. The media ‘dissolves” stories like this very quickly and they seem to just disappear the next day from television and newspapers…not to digress into conspiracy theory or anything…

  34. “For a snake to just kill something and walk away from it, it’s very rare,” he says.
    —-
    Rare indeed. Especially the walking away part.

  35. Did the snake fall on the boys? This would make sense, or could the boys not handle the weight of the snake if it was to lie on top of them or crawl over them. It was obviously not hungry. Also were the boys right next to each other meaning the snake was on top of both the same time. I am trying to be non judgemental and give everyone the benefit of being truthful.

  36. these snakes are not meant to be pets they are notoriously aggressive take a lot of experience and space they kill in minutes. but I owned 3 of them in 2005. biggest was 5.5 feet none smaller than 4. I don’t and never will blame the snake for this incident or any other they only do what they are meant to do and what comes natural if you cant properly care for them don’t have them. thank you.

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