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2.5-foot-long snake on the loose in Winnipeg

Tuesday, July 28th 2020, 10:04 am - City of Winnipeg's Animal Services Agency says it hasn't been able to find the snake yet

CBC: Snake on the loose in Winnipeg The city's animal services team is out searching for a large snake in the area of the University of Manitoba. (Submitted/Margaret Kapinga)

Prasad Gowder was driving by the University of Manitoba's Smartpark Friday when he saw something strange lying in the middle of the road — a large leopard-printed snake.

Gowder, who isn't fond of reptiles, went home to tell his spouse — who is a biologist — what he saw.

"When I described it to her she thought it was a garter snake. I said absolutely not," he said on CBC Radio's Up To Speed on Monday.

"This was large ... I've been to the dens of Narcisse. I know what garters look like. This didn't fit."

CBC: A large snake was spotted by a number of Winnipeggers near the University of Manitoba on Friday night. City crews say it's still out there. (Submitted/Margaret Kapinga) A large snake was spotted by a number of Winnipeggers near the University of Manitoba on Friday night. City crews say it's still out there. (Submitted/Margaret Kapinga)

Gowder went back to the area to take a better look at the snake, and even then it hadn't moved. He decided to snap some pictures from a physically distant location.

"I didn't know what it was or how fast it could move," he said of the 24-30 inch, or 60-76 centimetre-long snake.

Gowder also spoke with others who had encountered the snake — a number of whom had almost run it over while biking or rollerblading nearby, he said.

They determined it must be someone's exotic pet.

Upon further investigation, Gowder and his spouse came to the conclusion it's likely an African Ball Python, which is non-venomous.

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The City of Winnipeg's Animal Services Agency told CBC News it's been searching for the snake in the area and hasn't yet been able to find it.

On Saturday, Gowder learned something interesting in a phone call with his mother.

She said his interaction with the snake lines up perfectly with the Hindu snake festival Nag Panchami that some people in India celebrate.

"It's maybe a sign I need to go visit."

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For those worried about having a snake on the loose, Ball Pythons are harmless, according to Rob Vendramelli of the Manitoba Herpetocultural Society, a club that promotes the safekeeping of reptiles and amphibians as pets, as well as conservation of local wildlife.

"Lots of people keep ball pythons as pets. They're pretty common in the pet trade. They're a harmless species that usually you keep in tanks," he said.

In fact, he said its more dangerous for the snake than it is for the public.

If this particular snake is a pet, it's likely not adapted to hunting for food and could die if the weather drops below 15 or 20 degrees, Vendramelli said.

"They're not adapted to live in those kinds of conditions so they wouldn't survive more than a few days once fall hits," he said.

The reptile enthusiast hopes the snake is found safe.

"A lot of reptile keepers are very responsible. These animals aren't necessarily cheap animals and if people want to take good care of them so it's unfortunate that this animal got out," said Vendramelli.

This article, written by Rachel Bergen, was originally published for CBC News. Contains files from Wendy Jane Parker.

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