Monty the ball python went missing on June 13, the same night the Toronto Raptors won their first NBA Championship in franchise history.
How he ended up escaping from inside his terrarium is still a headscratcher, but his owner has tossed around a few ideas.
“Either he escaped on his own or he had some help from a very happy Raptors fan — we’re not sure,” laughed Samantha Sannella.
Sannella’s son discovered the snake on Thanksgiving while opening a cupboard in the basement of the family’s Toronto home. Monty had been missing since June and the family was getting ready to post his terrarium online for sale when the snake decided to come out of hiding.
“I’m sure he has some adventures wrapped around the pipes, maybe he went behind the fridge for warmth, maybe he looked out the window. I’m not sure. I’ve decided to write a kid’s book about it so stay tuned,” Sannella said.
“Did I mention, Monty even missed his first birthday?”
In July, a similar-looking snake was rescued from a sewer grate. Monty’s owner thought it was for sure him but after a couple days with the snake, she realized it was an imposter, lovingly nicknamed Sneaky Pete by the family that decided to return the snake to animal services following the mix-up. She said she should have known the other snake was not Monty as it was larger and more aggressive.
“Monty is pretty shy and more docile, more so than the imposter snake, ‘Sneaky Pete,’ or the case of the ‘mis-snaken’ identity.”
Although he’s been on the crawl for months, Monty appeared to be in good spirits even though he didn’t eat for months. Pythons rely on fat storage in their bodies and will slow down their systems to help with survival.
“They’re easygoing. They’re known as the lapdogs of the snake world,” explained Katie Hanrahan, the lead keeper at Reptilia in Vaughan.
“It’s a great first starter snake if you’re interested in getting into snakes and are easier for kids to handle.”
The ball python is the most common household pet as far as the snake species goes, known for its calm nature and desire to explore. Males grow to about 2.5 feet while females are typically bigger and can reach up to six feet.
Reptilia is also an animal sanctuary and rescue since opening in the GTA two years ago. The organization said it has adopted out more than 300 reptiles, ranging from snakes to alligators.
“It’s not just an animal you buy and you have for a few years,” Hanrahan said.
“Ball pythons have been known to live into their 40s in some cases.”
Monty’s long-awaited homecoming doesn’t appear to impress the four-legged family members in the household.
“They’re suspect. They perhaps knew where he was all along,” Sannella said.
“I think he might have been in the ceiling at one point and I think she (the dog) could hear him, but we never could find him and we had the basement renovated actually at this time. We did not tell the contractor until afterwards. We were just hoping he wouldn’t just pop out.”
This isn’t the end of Monty’s adventures. He is heading to live with Sannella’s son who’s away at University in Guelph — a new home, a new city and endless opportunities for the slithery escape artist.