Helen Galgay was getting ready to walk her friend’s dog Tuesday night in the Halifax suburb when the canine alerted her to something in the grass.
“[The dog] started sniffing here by the grass. So I’m like, ‘No, no, come on Chance, let’s go.’ We were going to go on our walk and he wouldn’t come away,” she said.
“Then I looked at it a little more closely and saw that it was a coiled up snake. I freaked out, yanked the dog — probably gave him whiplash — ran into the house and started screaming for my husband that we have a snake, and it’s a big one, and you need to come outdoors right now.”
Galgay said she is familiar with snakes native to Nova Scotia and she knew this was not a common variety.
“The circumference was the size of my husband’s fist, so this was not your typical garter snake,” she said.
She didn’t know what else to do so she called police. Police then called a snake expert with the Department of Natural Resources who determined that the snake was, in fact, a ball python.
DNR said due to the cooler temperatures, and the fact that snakes are cold blooded, the snake would not have travelled far, and was probably kept as a pet in a nearby home.
“Maybe someone discarded it, there’s woods across the street, maybe they thought it was time to get rid of their pet, I don’t know,” said Galgay.
“It’s a bit unsettling, I have to say. You’re out walking your dog, doing your daily activities and all of a sudden you see this big snake that has no business being here.”
4th python seized in N.S. this month
This was the fourth python seized in Nova Scotia and the second ball python found outdoors in the Halifax region in the past month.
On Aug. 8, a small python loose in a Truro, N.S., apartment surprised officers executing a search warrant.
On Aug. 19, a 68-kilogram reticulated python was seized in Yarmouth County.
There was also a ball python found slithering around the Lancaster Ridge neighbourhood of Dartmouth that has not yet been claimed.
Nicole Payne, with the animal rescue group Hope For Wildlife, said the ball python found on Tuesday measured just over one metre long and weighed about two kilograms. She said ball pythons are one of the few species of pythons permitted as pets in Nova Scotia.
“Ball pythons are quite a bit smaller than the reticulated pythons and the Burmese pythons and the African rock pythons that have been in the news, so they are not very dangerous to humans. They are a legal species that can be owned in Nova Scotia that average about [one metre] in length but can get up to [two metres] in length. They also have quite a docile temperament compared to other snake species, so there’s not too much of a danger to humans,” said Payne.
“The ball python is a native species to Africa, it is not an indigenous species to Nova Scotia. Our climate here is definitely too cold to support them in winter. It had to have been somebody’s pet that was either intentionally let go or escaped.”
There has been a heightened awareness of snakes being kept as pets since an African rock python killed two boys in Campbellton, N.B., a few weeks ago.