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Danse Macabre!
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Interestingly, the TOronto star always seems to be up to date whenever an accident involving a pet snake occurs. This one is actually pretty bizarre and would almost be funny if it weren't for the poor landlord losing a ton of money over this issue.

3-month hunt for cobra puts bite on landlord

As snake-hunter scours rooming house, tenants are displaced and costs are rising

January 03, 2007
Michele Henry
Staff Reporter

The problem with snakes is they don't leave footprints.

And the cobra still presumed to be living in a west-end rooming house hasn't left tracks either.

Aside from a few sightings more than three months ago, the deadly scaled fugitive has vanished without a trace.

The hunt for the venomous snake has shut down the rooming house, sent its five tenants packing and left the landlord, Philip Belanger, $20,000 poorer from lost rent and damage. Belanger says he's heard estimates that the City of Toronto has spent $100,000 in its bid to find the snake, calling in the police, fire department, paramedics and experts from the Toronto Zoo and Animal Services. The city will not confirm any figure.

"The thing about snakes is they've evolved to be elusive," Josh Feltham, a reptile expert, says. "If I was that snake I'd be having a great time in that house. There's food around. It can explore. What more do you need ... A female maybe."

Feltham, general manager of Reptilia, a reptile zoo in Vaughan, is also a snake hunter. He's putting his expertise and University of Toronto science degree to use to try to catch the cobra.

Called in by City of Toronto Animal Services, he's the latest hope in a string of attempts to end a three-month standoff between man and beast.

Belanger, 46, also a funeral director, has his fingers crossed. He just wants this drama to end.

"It's getting iffy as to how much further I'm going to go," he says. "This is crazy." He may have to sell the house, which he inherited from his late father, but isn't thrilled about potentially losing money on a property that is currently uninhabitable.

Described by those who've seen it, the cobra is white with mottled brown and red skin. A bite from it can kill unless an antidote is quickly administered. It could be hiding in a few nooks within the western portion of Belanger's Victorian semi-detached house near Weston Rd. and Church St.

Yellow tape still surrounds the property at 16 Church St., which was sealed off by Toronto Public Health Sept. 30 after Belanger and a couple of tenants saw the snake coiled behind the fridge the day before.

A week later, Belanger caught a glimpse of the cobra in the basement ceiling. He removed a recessed light and peered into the dark gap with a mirror to find the snake hissing in his direction.

The cobra was last heard from on Oct. 2 when officials from the Toronto Zoo and Animal Services heard it slithering, once again, in the basement ceiling.

The cobra was owned by Helder Claro, the former tenant of 18 Church St.- the other half of the semi-detached house. Claro, who has a history of keeping dangerous animals in his home, fled the premises in September. Animal Services charged him with harbouring prohibited animals, an offence that carries a maximum $5,000 fine. He is now in custody awaiting trial on unrelated charges.

The house, built more than 100 years ago as one dwelling and later divided into a semi, has made the snake's commute from one side to the other easy. The cobra could serpentine its way through the joists between the hardwood floors and drywall ceiling.

That's where it's been spotted before, and where there is evidence of previous attempts to nab it. Drywall's been ripped out. Heat lamps have been placed strategically about the basement to coax the cold-blooded creature to the light.

Feltham thinks it might be staked out in a dirt-filled crawl space under the kitchen.

Snakes can slow their metabolism and under certain conditions can go for six months without eating, he says.

Even though there are signs of rodents - snake food - on the premises, chances are good, Feltham says, the cobra's hunkered down, not moving, in a dark crevice waiting for spring.

The likelihood it has left the house is slim, he adds, because it wouldn't survive the cold.

Feltham's confident he'll be victorious in his mission. "Snake people are generally very patient people," he says. "I'm catching this snake ... if it's alive."
Weird stuff. Interestingly, I bought my Ornate Horned Frog from Reptillia
 

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WWTCD?
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I'd love to know what type of cobra it is. And whether it is in fact a cobra. Because from the sounds of it the only people who have seen it don't know all that much about snakes in the first place.

It is impressive that snakes can live in some of the conditions that they do. That a warm water pipe can provide a snake with constant heat for a prolonged period of time. Stuff like that.

In the end though this is just another case of an idiot ruining the hobby for so many more people. It's sad, really, that this guy who originally owned the snake had it in the first place. And he's facing only a $5000 fine on the issue? It should be a steeper penalty than that - he should be charged with public endangerment and a host of other things, basically anything they can toss at him, just to make a point.
 

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Danse Macabre!
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'll have to ask the guys at reptillia in a few weeks to see if they've found anything out about it. I'd like to think animal control would identify it properly but you're right, they probably haven't got a clue.

I'm hoping the landlord can sue the guy for money lost, although to be perfectly honest if the guy lived in a rooming house it's pretty unlikely he's going to have the money to pay anything back
 

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Serras n Snakes
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This search has been going on since late Sept. They had also taken out of that same house a Komodo Dragon
 

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WWTCD?
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I'll have to ask the guys at reptillia in a few weeks to see if they've found anything out about it. I'd like to think animal control would identify it properly but you're right, they probably haven't got a clue.

I'm hoping the landlord can sue the guy for money lost, although to be perfectly honest if the guy lived in a rooming house it's pretty unlikely he's going to have the money to pay anything back
I thought he owned the other side of the semi? (According to the article.)
 

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Danse Macabre!
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'll have to ask the guys at reptillia in a few weeks to see if they've found anything out about it. I'd like to think animal control would identify it properly but you're right, they probably haven't got a clue.

I'm hoping the landlord can sue the guy for money lost, although to be perfectly honest if the guy lived in a rooming house it's pretty unlikely he's going to have the money to pay anything back
I thought he owned the other side of the semi? (According to the article.)
[/quote]

The article describes him as a tenant, so I assume that means he was renting. Admittedly though, I'm not up on my rental property legalese, so I could be wrong.

As to the Komodo dragon thing, that can't possibly be right. It has to be nearly impossible to bring one of those into the country I would imagine considering their rarity and I don't believe you can import them without strict conditions, I figure it must have been a big monitor or something (which is another animal that is probably way too big for a duplex as well).
 

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That's a spooky story, I feel bad for the owner of the building.
Here's another lost cobra story; A couple of years ago someone here in Massachusetts lost an Egyptian cobra in their apartment in August, snake couldn't be found, after 16 months everybody gave it up as dead because they figured it wouldn't survive the winter. November of the next year the snake was found down the road IN AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL!!
Here's an excerpt I found,
" Tut, the Stoneham, Massachusetts Egyptian cobra missing since last August was found in early November by a fourth grade student reaching for his lunch box. The 9-year-old said, "I jumped about three feet back then I saw it. I was scared." Three cheers for the fourth grade teacher, though; by the time authorities arrived Tut was trapped and secured in a recycling bin. The teacher said, "Well, now we can use the [grassy] field... it puts some closure on the whole thing. We don't have to worry where it is anymore." [The Boston Globe, November 7, 1996 ]
 

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Serras n Snakes
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Here is somemore old news on the Cobra here and
more here.
 

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WWTCD?
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I'll have to ask the guys at reptillia in a few weeks to see if they've found anything out about it. I'd like to think animal control would identify it properly but you're right, they probably haven't got a clue.

I'm hoping the landlord can sue the guy for money lost, although to be perfectly honest if the guy lived in a rooming house it's pretty unlikely he's going to have the money to pay anything back
I thought he owned the other side of the semi? (According to the article.)
[/quote]

The article describes him as a tenant, so I assume that means he was renting. Admittedly though, I'm not up on my rental property legalese, so I could be wrong.

As to the Komodo dragon thing, that can't possibly be right. It has to be nearly impossible to bring one of those into the country I would imagine considering their rarity and I don't believe you can import them without strict conditions, I figure it must have been a big monitor or something (which is another animal that is probably way too big for a duplex as well).
[/quote]

Yeah, I was thinking that too. The export is prohibited and the ones that are in zoos are all on loan for the most part, I think... I find it hard to believe he had one. Not to mention the care that would've been involved. The thing most likely would've killed him.
 

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When I was a boy my 2 gartner snakes got loose in the house and we only ever found one of them. I'm guessing the cat got him, or he found his way into the walls and eventually died. I was kinda expecting to find him when we moved, dead in the back of a closet or something, but nope. I almost blew my snake keeping privilages with that one.
 

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WWTCD?
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It may have gotten out into the wild blue yonder... You live in an area where garter snakes can be found. Though it may have died its first winter out, not knowing to hibernate, or been easy prey for some type of predator.
 
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