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Lost boa constrictor in Westboro ‘no cause for concern’: Ottawa bylaw

Residents of an Ottawa neighbourhood are on the lookout for a missing snake

The City of Ottawa’s bylaw department says a missing 1.5-metre long pet boa constrictor that escaped from its owner’s home in Westboro three days ago is “no cause for concern.”

The snake, a grey and black boa named Murphy, reportedly slithered away on Lanark Avenue in Westboro Beach around 1 a.m. on Saturday, according to a post about the escape on Kijiji, a classified advertising website.

READ MORE: Saskatoon police officers corral boa constrictor

The post describes Murphy as a “friendly and calm” boa constrictor who hasn’t been outdoors before.

In a written statement on Monday afternoon, bylaw issues management specialist Christine Hartig said the department has received three reports about the lost snake but none yet about any sightings.

“If there is a confirmed sighting, an investigation will be initiated, and the snake captured as necessary,” Hartig wrote.

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Hartig declined to say whether bylaw officers have been in contact with the snake’s owner, Karen Genge.

The city’s animal care and control bylaw prohibits Ottawa residents from keeping any snakes that are members of the non-venomous ‘Boidae’ family — but it does permit breeds of boas that reach “an adult length of no greater than two metres.”

While it’s unknown what kind of constrictor Murphy is, the Kijiji posting describes the snake as a “dwarf” boa — a term sometimes used to describe smaller breeds, or boas that are smaller-than-average for their type.

READ MORE: Snakes in socks? Smuggling of exotic animals keeps Canadian authorities busy

Even though Murphy is supposedly five feet long, and therefore under the two-metre rule, Hartig told CBC News the snake would be still illegal. When asked by Global News to clarify whether the animal is an illegal exotic pet or not, Hartig did not say.

“Certain types of boa constrictors, including rainbow boas and hog island boas, reach an adult length of less than two meters and therefore, are not prohibited,” her statement said. “However, some boa constrictor breeds do reach an adult length of greater than two meters and therefore, are prohibited.”

If officers find the snake and identify it as a prohibited species, the owner could be fined $615 under the animal bylaw, Hartig said.

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READ MORE: More Canadians keeping exotic pets, experts worried

In two tweets posted Monday, the bylaw department urged residents to keep their distance should they spot the missing boa constrictor, and call 311.

Genge is reportedly offering a $300 reward to anyone who helps find the pet snake.

Westboro Beach is located west of Ottawa’s downtown area.

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