Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Snake Believed to Have Killed Boys May Have Been Lured by Their Scent: Expert

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Snake Believed to Have Killed Boys May Have Been Lured by Their Scent: Expert

Article excerpt

Scent of boys may have lured snake: expert


The African rock python that escaped its enclosure and is believed to have killed two New Brunswick boys may have been lured by the scent of the children because they were playing with farm animals hours earlier and may have smelled like prey, one reptile expert said Tuesday.

The founder and co-owner of Little Ray's Reptile Zoo in Ottawa said snakes such as the one that police believe killed Noah and Connor Barthe don't visually recognize their prey, so if the boys smelled like the animals they were playing with, it could serve as an explanation for the attack.

"If a snake sees an animal moving, giving off heat and smells like a goat, what is it? It's a goat," said Paul (Little Ray) Goulet.

"This is the reasonable explanation of how this has happened is that they had been playing with farm animals, they did smell like their prey items and the snake sadly enough mistook them as a food item when they weren't."

Dave Rose, the great uncle of the boys, said the four- and six-year-old boys spent Sunday playing at Jean-Claude Savoie's family farm.

"There they played with lamas and goats and horses, they played with dogs and cats in the hayloft, went for a ride on the farm tractor with Jean-Claude and he even let them steer the tractor," Rose said.

Savoie later took Noah and Connor to his apartment in Campbellton, N.B., where, police say, the 45-kilogram snake escaped its floor-to-ceiling glass tank and slithered through a ventilation system before its weight forced it to fall through the ceiling into the living room where the boys slept Sunday night. Their bodies were found Monday morning and the snake has since been put down.

Goulet said snakes have become adept at sensing prey through scent and if they're hungry, they will strike.

"If you were to take a chicken or a rabbit and you rub it all over your hands and your arm, and you stick your hand in front of that animal's face and it's hungry, it will immediately grab your arm and wrap around you," he said.

"They are ambush predators. Millions of years of evolution has taught them that food just doesn't flop in front of your face every day. …

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