08/06/2013 09:09 EDT | Updated 10/06/2013 05:12 EDT

Toronto lacks bylaw regulating storage of snakes

Non-venomous snakes that are no more than three metres long are permitted as pets in Toronto despite the city not having a bylaw to regulate how the reptiles are stored.

On Monday, an African rock python killed to young brothers in New Brunswick after it escaped from a reptile store and reportedly slithered through ventilation shafts.

But while that species of pythons is banned in New Brunswick, here in Ontario the laws regulating the ownership of snakes aren’t as strict.

The head of Zoocheck, a wildlife welfare organization said owning snakes should be banned altogether and likens Ontario to a "cowboy province" where "anything goes" when it comes to keeping exotic pets.

"Some provinces have some rules, some have policies, some don't have anything at all like here in Ontario," Rob Laidlaw said.

Municipalities including Toronto have passed bylaws regulating the ownership of snakes and other exotic pets. Toronto currently forbids residents from owning a snake that is venomous, or more than three metres in length.

Downtown pet shop owner Paul Collier has more than 150 serpents in his store and said even snakes that size shouldn't be underestimated.

"You've got to gauge the strength and size of the snake, and you've got to be able to contain them responsibly," he said.

The CBC’s Jeff Semple reports.