CORNER BROOK, N.L. – The manager of a pet store in western Newfoundland is warning that a normally docile three-metre boa constrictor stolen from her shop may be disoriented and hungry enough to pose a threat to her abductors or other people she encounters.
Jenette Blanchard of the Wild World store on Humber Street in Corner Brook says the female red-tail boa constrictor was taken out of her enclosure by intruders who broke into the shop between 10 p.m. on Thursday and 8 a.m. Friday.
The thieves grabbed a container of cash and the snake and fled from the shop.
“They came in through the door, they stole Venus and they took enough rats to try and feed her,” said Blanchard.
She says in normal circumstances the reptile named Venus is sleepy and placid in its enclosure in the store, which was to set to open in a month.
Blanchard said over the past five days the boa had been unwilling to eat the frozen rats offered as feed.
“I have tried everything to feed this girl. She does not want frozen food, she wants live (food). This is a big girl. … She can do some damage if she wanted to,” she said.
“Any animal you take…out of their enclosures, they’re unpredictable.”
The manager said she believes the snake was taken by someone who was aware of the snake and wanted to take her away from the shop.
Kyle O’Grady, assistant curator of the Indian River Reptile Zoo near Peterborough, Ont., said in an interview that it’s not unusual for boa constrictors to not eat for a number of days, especially if they are inactive.
He said he wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that Venus is more dangerous due to hunger.
However, he said if a fully grown boa constrictor is disoriented or injured it can bite and cause injury, though it’s unlikely to view its captors as prey.
He said thefts of snakes from pet shops are rare in Canada, but do occur occasionally.
“There’s any number of reasons. … It could go right back to commercial interests. There is an industry for people who keep and breed snakes like boas or ball pythons,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary says police are investigating the theft of the snake.
Const. Shawna Park said police do not believe the animal has been released by her abductors.
But she said police are telling the public not to approach Venus if they do encounter it.
— By Michael Tutton in Halifax.