Two children died after a python got into an apartment in Campbellton, N.B., RCMP say.
"Police are investigating two sudden deaths of two young boys," Const. Julie Rogers-Marsh said Monday.
It's believed the snake escaped from a pet store called Reptile Ocean. The victims were boys aged five and seven. They were visiting a friend in the apartment above the store, police said in a statement released Monday.
Rogers-Marsh said the preliminary investigation led police to believe that a python snake escaped its enclosure at the store sometime overnight. Initial information indicates the snake got into the ventilation system and then into the apartment upstairs.
"It's believed the two boys were strangled by the snake," she said, noting that autopsies are scheduled for tomorrow in Saint John.
Police were called to the residence on Pleasant Street at 6:30 a.m. local time.
Police have the snake. Initial reports suggested the snake was a boa constrictor.
City in shock
"This is a tragedy," said Deputy Mayor Ian Comeau. "The city is in shock."
It's not yet clear how the snake escaped.
In 2009, the province of New Brunswick allowed a wider variety of snakes, lizards and other exotic pets into the province. Under the change, pet stores were then able to sell non-poisonous snakes up to three metres in length.
Kevin Craig, a wildlife biologist with the province's Natural Resources department, said in a 2009 interview that pet stores pushed for the change because the province's regulations were more restrictive than other jurisdictions.