Charges laid against Ontario couple after 40 pythons found in motel

BRANTFORD, Ont. – A southern Ontario couple has been charged with animal cruelty after 40 ball python snakes and five eggs were found in a motel room.

The reptiles, some of them more than a metre long, were found last Thursday in plastic storage bins in a room at the Bell City Motel in Brantford, Ont.

The Ontario SPCA said Friday the snakes were dehydrated, and didn’t have water or enough space.

The snakes’ owners weren’t there when the animals were found, but the SPCA said they later surrendered their pets to investigators.

A man and a woman are charged with causing distress to an animal, failing to provide care necessary for an animal’s general welfare and failing to provide adequate and appropriate water.

Their names have not been released.

Police and witnesses said there were children staying in the motel room, but that type of snake is not considered dangerous compared with the one that killed two children in New Brunswick this month.

Noah Barthe, 4, and his brother Connor, 6, died after a 45-kilogram African rock python escaped its enclosure.

That tragedy has shone a spotlight on the risks and regulations surrounding the ownership of exotic animals.

The Ontario government has said it is looking into rules covering exotic animals in the wake of the New Brunswick deaths.

Owning a python is illegal in Brantford as it contravenes the local animal control bylaw.

A neighbour said last week the couple had five young children with them, including a baby.

The couple stayed in the room for only one night, a manager at the Bell City Motel said at the time.

They were out for dinner when police arrived, said the manager, who asked his name not be used.

He said the owners had been evicted by their landlord, who then called police to report 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.

On Wednesday, another ball python — this one approximately 120 centimetres long — was found by police on Icomm Drive in Brantford. It was taken into the care of the Ontario SPCA.