Pet snake is harmless, says reptile's owner

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Kenny Oliver of Truro, with Titus, a seven-foot-long Central American red tail boa constrictor says his pet is safe and there is no cause for alarm if someone sees him walking around town with the creature around his neck.

TRURO - "Whooaa," six-year-old Liam Blackburn says, in awed reaction, as he reaches up to pet the big snake being held by a man at Victoria Park.

Moments later, the seven-foot Central American red-tail boa constrictor is crawling up Liam's arm and across the back of his neck before slowly slithering head first, down the other side of his body.

"Awesome," the Bible Hill youngster says of the experience. "That he was going around my neck."

Liam and his mom are not the only ones who have decided to come over and check out the snake that spends a good part of his time wrapped around owner Kenny Oliver's neck.

Oliver, 21, of Truro has been garnering a bit of attention lately as he walks around town with his pet, Titus, wrapped snugly in place.

In fact, the reaction by some members of the public to the sight of Oliver and Titus in the downtown area was the subject of some debate during Truro town council on Monday.

"I've had a few calls about it," Coun. Tom Chisholm said, during the meeting. "Inglis Street businesses are not impressed."

The bottom line, however, council determined, is that the snake is a pet and the town does not have any bylaw in place to prevent it from being out and about with its owner.

From Oliver's perspective, that's exactly the way it should be.

"I have no problems with people taking their pets outside," he says, adding that he has faced more danger from unleashed dogs running public than Titus has ever created.

"I've never had anyone who could say that this snake has done any harm to them or anything like that."

Oliver, who was once "deathly afraid" of snakes, has been handling the creatures for about four years after doing some research and deciding to deal with his phobia once and for all.

"Got my first one out of fear and now I just love them," he said. "So I'd take snakes all day."

Oliver does admit, though, that some people do run away when they see him coming. Just as many others, however, run up to check Titus out.

"A lot of people don't know about snakes, right. So they don't know if they like them until they pet one or hold it," he says.

"They're awesome to get to know. When you hang out with a snake and get to know their behaviour ... To be able to pick it up and watch it move around it's cage and eat, all that stuff. It's awesome."

But is it dangerous?

"No, maybe in the wild, Oliver said. "But not a pet, not one that was bred in captivity," he says. "They get used to being handled and they're fine."

FACTS AT A GLANCE

Red tail boa constrictor

Range: Tropical South and Central America, from Brazil and Columbia all the way north through Mexico.

Lifespan: Can live for more than 30 years in captivity.

Size: Fully grown adult red-tailed boa can easily reach 10 feet in length and 50 pounds in weight.

Behaviour: Generally docile, though wild-caught boas tend to be more aggressive than captive-bred boas.

Habitat: Prefer woodlands, semi-arid forests and tropical rain forests. Nocturnal and spend the hot days lazing about under logs or cooling off in rivers, and the cooler nights hunting prey.

Diet: Natural prey includes rats, mice, amphibians, snakes, birds, eggs and small mammals. Titus, who is fed twice a month, eats frozen rats and rabbits.

 

 

Organizations: Truro town council

Geographic location: Victoria Park, Inglis Street, Brazil Columbia Mexico

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  • M.Mack
    May 20, 2013 - 12:13

    It is nice to know the Kenny continues to take Titus aka (wrinkles), to those who knew him before, to his favorite place.. This is not an agressive snake, we owned it prior to Kenny owing it . It has been around children (now aged 5&6) and many for most of it existence. This snake has made visits to my grand daughters day care and to an elementry school. He enjoys being with people and his most favorite place to sit is around the head like a hat. Titus(wrinkles) is a firebelly boa bread in captivity, in the 5 years that we had him it was a pleasure to have such a wonderful reptile. Educaution and knowledge is the best in understanding an pet or animal the you are unware of, Wrinkles is welcomed home at any time !!!!

  • Charles
    May 08, 2013 - 16:07

    LOL What I fear? please. I had to stop reading LOL I felt the urge to go hug a tree!! LOL

  • Gimmeabreak
    May 08, 2013 - 09:34

    Attention seeker, pure and simple. Mission accomplished.

  • RJ
    May 08, 2013 - 09:32

    Saw this guy walking in front of the house yesterday. I was pretty ticked off. The thing is hanging a good foot out of each hand. If I had to pass him on the sidewalk I would have had to step off to avoid contact probably. I do NOT want to be that close to a 7' snake. If I have to keep my dog on a leash, he should have to keep his snake in a carrier or other appropriate means of restraint. What if I had my 'pet rabbit' out for a walk. Would it be so harmless then? Or would it think it was lunchtime...

  • Nicole
    May 08, 2013 - 07:01

    Here we go with the pit bull crap. People don't bother to learn about these animals and just assume the worst. I get annoyed by little ankle biter dogs that run up and bite at my lab...never had that problem with a pit bull...or a snake. Maybe you should meet some of these animals to understand them better instead of fearing what you don't understand...I'm reading a book called 'The Lost Dogs' by Jim Gorant about Michael Vick's fighting dogs - it would break your heart to read what these dogs were put thru, but mend it again when you see how they didn't let them turn into vicious mindless maiming machines, but loving pets.

  • Charles
    May 08, 2013 - 05:29

    Yes well I don't believe you Mr., Oliver Your no authority. Your story brings to mind claims of docile pit bulls. We all know how that plays out.

    • Leslie Fowler
      May 08, 2013 - 07:26

      well charles, i disagree with you, cuz you only mention pit bulls( what YOU fear). why don't you ever go up to him and ask politely to pet one or hold a snake for 12mins and tell me if it's first reaction was to attack, or be aggressive in any form. i bet within that 12mins your 1: still be alive, 2: have a different perspective on boa snakes, 3: you will come off your high authority over mr.oliver and peace will become of it. and last but never least 4: this won't be posted because i'm 2 real and i speak from my heart and people like me are ignored or unliked because we are different. i can only hope mr.oliver continues to educate other on titus, way to go my friend:) peace and later on.

  • Aurora
    May 07, 2013 - 22:42

    Hope to see you out and about town this summer -- I'd love to get a close-up look at Titus. To be fair, I could understand the calls if people saw the boa without the owner, but really... it's not like it's slithering lose or anything.