Should there be laws restricing exotic pets in Canada?

Thomas Bink
Pulse of Canada
Two Yellow Anacondas (Eunectes Notaeus) are pictured in a terrarium at Berlin zoo December 4, 2007. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke (GERMANY)

The deaths of two young boys in Campbellton, New Brunswick, is raising questions about rationale for owning exotic animals in Canada.

Seven-year-old Connor Barthe, and his brother Noah, five, were found dead Monday morning after an African python escaped its enclosure in the pet store below the apartment the boys were staying in, slithered up the ventilation ducts and apparently strangled them.

"They don't make good pets, period," said Melissa Matlow, spokeswoman for the World Society for the Protection of Animals in Canada about pythons. "They should be banned."

A patchwork of bylaws and regulations across Canada doesn't clearly define which exotic animals are legal to own or sell. Deadly snakes, spiders and exotic lizards can be purchased in many areas of the country, despite their potential dangers.

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"I don't think any province really has a good system in place to prevent people from owning these animals," Matlow told The Globe and Mail. "You usually don't have to show any knowledge to care for them properly."

“There are no binding federal laws in Canada on which exotic animals can be deemed pets and which cannot — it is a complete mess that varies from province to province," said Rob Laidlaw of Zoocheck Canada. “You would be as surprised as I have been to learn of some of the animals some people feel like taking in and trying to tame as pets.”

But why would anyone want to own a dangerous pet to begin with? In the wrong hands, they could be the animal equivalent of a loaded gun — at some point, someone careless could get hurt or killed.

That said, the New Brunswick store from which the snake escaped, Reptile Ocean, has been in business for 16 years without incident, and stories like the one that happened in New Brunswick are few and far between.

So we ask you: Should there be federal regulations on exotic pets in Canada?

Have your say in the comments area below.