An 8 foot python as a pet?

Python as a pet

Have a question about pets? Send your questions to (All questions will be published anonymously.)

The question: I love exotic animals and I’ve wanted a python for a long time. I have a few questions: I am surprised that a python killed two children in the recent tragedy in New Brunswick, and I am confused why they had to kill the snake. Friends tell me I shouldn’t want a python as a pet after this. What do you think?

The answer: I’m glad you asked these questions – python ownership is an incredibly sensitive issue, and you raise multiple issues that need to be addressed individually. Whether pythons make a good pet – and whether killing humans is in their nature are great questions to ask before you decide one way or the other.

First, let’s deal with ownership. Having a pet – any kind of living creature – is a big responsibility. But owning a potentially dangerous animal, whether that’s a dog, snake, or a tarantula is a responsibility that requires an immense amount of planning, education, and controls. If you’re not prepared for this, please consider a gold fish. (Also: investigate the by-laws in your city, as they vary widely.)

I understand that snakes are fascinating – it’s great that you have a deep appreciation for the creatures. I adore ostriches and pumas, but would never allow one in my home. You can read all about the animals you’re mesmerized by online and in libraries. Just because you love something, doesn’t mean you should own it.

To your question on what makes a good pet? I take a pretty absolute stance. For me, the deal breaker is not their potential to harm (dogs can be deadly!) but it’s about the creature’s ability to bond with me. If I can’t have a mutual, emotional relationship, I see no reason in keeping it. So for me, dogs are the best; cats are debatable and bunnies completely unacceptable. Snakes? Gerbils? Iguanas? No, no and no.

As we’ve seen recently, these creatures can cause unimaginable horror. There are are no words, and certainly none in a pet column, to address what the family, friends and community of Campbellton, N.B. are feeling after an African rock python strangled two boys to death.

I called reptile guru Paul Raymond Goulet in Ottawa, the Ray of the city’s famous Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo, to find out why people own these creatures, and to answer your question about their nature.

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