A Winnipeg man got quite the surprise on Saturday afternoon when he spotted a huge white snake while mowing the lawn.
“When I saw it I literally freaked out,” said Breno Martins, who saw the reptile slithering through the grass and up the side of his house in the 600 block of Ebby Avenue in the city’s Fort Rouge area.
“I don’t know if it’s dangerous. I don’t know if it’s venomous. And I know that we have many pets and kids in the neighbourhood. It was, oh, my god, I have to do something. I was terrified.”
Martins made sure to watch the snake while waiting for members of the City of Winnipeg’s animal services agency to arrive.
However, onlookers lost track of it after it slithered onto a neighbour’s yard and into some bushes.
Winnipeg police put out a notice that evening warning an eight-foot-long snake was loose in the area, but Martins thinks it’s closer to five feet.
He says neighbours down the street have also seen the snake, but it’s still at large, as far as he knows.
Snake probably hiding
Rob Vendramelli, a volunteer with the Manitoba Herpetocultural Society, says the reptile could stay in hiding up to a week unless it needs to come out to search for food or water.
Based on the description provided by police on Saturday and Martins’s picture, Vendramelli says, the snake is likely a corn snake, which are common as pets and legal in Winnipeg. While corn snakes are shorter than eight feet, snake lengths are often overestimated, he adds.
He says anyone who spots the snake should call animal services or 911, as police advised earlier. Corn snakes aren’t venomous, so it’s more likely a person would hurt the snake rather than the other way around.
“They’re usually pretty comfortable with being handled, and not dangerous to people,” he said.
Vendramelli says his best guess as to how the snake got out in the first place is that its owner had likely let it outside for some sunshine, which the reptiles love.
“It was a nice day. Maybe someone had taken their snake out to the back yard to get some sun. Natural sunlight is beneficial to a lot of reptiles,” he said.
“They’re usually fairly tractable. You can keep an eye on them and keep them safe in their enclosures, [but] some of them are escape artists.”
That’s why he thinks if the snake isn’t curled up in a tiny hiding place, it could be out basking in a sunny spot.
On Sunday afternoon, police tweeted that Winnipeg’s animal services department was handling the matter, though the snake had not been located yet. A city official told CBC News the snake remained at large Sunday morning.
Martins knows now that the snake is relatively harmless, but says he hopes it doesn’t come back: “It’s not a nice encounter.”