Holy shit. In Toronto, an Egyptian cobra has been on the loose for two months, forcing tenants out of two houses and their landlords to go without an income during that time. The cobra was one of three venomous snakes kept illegally by one tenant; the other two — another Egyptian cobra and a gaboon viper — have been seized, and the owner is due in court on Friday.
Every so often one of my young snake keeping friends has their pet snake escape. Usually it turns up again within a couple of weeks; it’s usually no big deal, because they live in single detached houses and the snakes are harmless: it’s mainly a question of the snake’s safety, not anyone else’s (and escaped snakes can survive for months).
But there’s a big difference between a corn snake on the loose and a venomous snake on the loose, especially when the keeper is living in an apartment.
My position is as follows:
- You should never let snakes escape. If your snake escapes, it’s your fault. QED.
- You should never let snakes escape if you live in an apartment or undetached dwelling. If your snake escapes and turns up in someone else’s apartment, you’re in a lot of trouble.
- The legality or morality of keeping venomous snakes notwithstanding, if you live in an apartment or undetached dwelling, you should never keep venomous snakes. Ever. If you do, and your venomous snake escapes, you’re fucked.
I never have and never will keep venomous snakes. Even so, I haven’t had an escape in more than four years, and I’ve never completely lost a snake — I’ve almost always found the snake out of its cage rather than an empty cage. I’m proud of that fact.