A Canadian city is "in shock" after two young boys were seemingly killed by an escaped snake that slithered into the room where they were sleeping late Sunday night.
"This is a tragedy," Campbellton Deputy Mayor Ian Comeau remarked. "The city is in shock."
Police currently believe the snake escaped from a nearby pet store called called Reptile Ocean, attacking the children, ages 5 and 7, during a sleepover. The creature likely entered the apartment through the ventilation shaft.
The investigation is still in its preliminary stages, but RCMP spokeswoman Const. Julia Rogers-Marsh said: “It’s believed the two boys were strangled by the snake."
A former store employee told the National Post that the snake is an African Rock Python, which USA Today describes: "In the wild, African rock pythons feed on monkeys, antelopes, warthogs and even crocodiles. In suburban areas, their prey includes dogs, goats, rats or fowl...They rarely attack humans, but when they do, the victims are usually children."
The paper refers readers to a 2009 National Geographic article where one expert said the creatures, which can grow up to 20-feet in length, are "so mean, they come out of the egg striking."
The Toronto Sun notes that there have long been calls to shut down the pet store.
One online petition called the conditions "disgusting," describing absolutely horrific treatment of the animals on display.
The pet store has responded on Facebook: "deepest symphathies goes out to the family of the children. a terrible accident without a meaning. this page will be shut down temporarily to avoid any further demeaning comments. you should be ashamed of yourselves. we all have a heavy heart today. as anyone would. and attacks on the animals owner are unneccesary."
Police have captured the snake, and reiterate that the investigation is ongoing.
More on the tragic story from the Canadian Broadcast Corporation: