QUESTION: What wiggles, slithers and doesn’t belong in a garbage bin? Answer: A 1.2-metre python.
It was not a laughing matter when a man taking out his trash about 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday made the surprising discovery. He immediately called 911.
The ball python was squirming inside a large garbage bin near apartments in the 200 block of Wellington Crescent. It had likely been in the bin for hours or possibly a few days.
A police dog team secured the snake inside a recycling bin until animal services officials arrived to take custody. Officials believe the snake was purposely dumped in the trash because broken pieces of a large aquarium were also found in the bin.
The lid was easily identifiable as the top to an aquarium for a reptile, complete with large air holes covered in screen and the remnants of a hinge on one side. Inside the broken half of the aquarium’s bottom were wood shavings from the base of the habitat. Half of a latch could be seen on the wood frame of the aquarium.
Animal services’ chief operating officer Leland Gordon said the python would likely not have survived for long, considering the nights are still cold.
"When someone gets a pet, that’s a lifelong commitment to that animal. You don’t put snakes in Dumpsters. You find a home for that animal," Gordon told a news conference.
He said the snake is now "happy and warm" and under a heat lamp while the investigation continues.
Ball pythons can be legally owned in the city, but require specialized care, including a humid habitat with both warm and cool areas.
They are native to western and west-central Africa, are constrictors and are not venomous. They are called ball pythons because they coil around their heads into a ball when frightened. In captivity, they can live up to 30 years. They can be finicky eaters in captivity and need to be fed every seven to 10 days, their main diet consisting of rodents.
If the snake had not been discovered, Gordon said it could have slithered out of the garbage bin and would have no doubt given residents quite a fright if spotted on a nearby sidewalk or street.
"It’s not very often we see a stray snake like this," he said. "We’re glad it didn’t get out and a child didn’t encounter it on the street. There’s a portion of our community that’s terrified of snakes."
Police are continuing their investigation and say charges could be laid under the Animal Care Act if they confirm the snake was deliberately discarded.