A dead boa constrictor was found in a ditch near Ammonite Falls, just west of Nanaimo, on Sunday afternoon.
The woman who found the snake, Stefanie Irwin, says she was out for a run when she spotted the giant snake next to the trail. Irwin said it looked like it had been dead for several days and had started to decompose.
“The weather in Vancouver Island is pretty chilly so a cold-blooded snake like that probably wouldn’t survive the winter,” said Sgt. Stuart Bates, a BC Conservation Officer. “If it were released when it was warm, it could have killed any number of small mammals.”
Boas have the potential to damage the island’s natural ecosystem.
“The harm any alien species can do to the environment is immeasurable sometimes,” said Bates. “Sometimes it’s innocuous because they die right away. Other times they can do a great deal of harm before we even know they’re there.”
This particular one, however, is a little different —you’re allowed to keep one as a pet.
“I’m thinking it’s a common boa, or a BCI, they’re called often. They are legal, they’re completely legal,” said Haylo Walker, an employee at Creatures Pet Store in Victoria and an animal care aid.
Common boas are often mistaken for red-tailed boas, she added, noting those ones are illegal to have.
“They have no malicious intent,” she explained. “They’re not going to try to hurt you… they have no interest in doing something like that because they can’t eat you.”
Snakes like these can grow as tall as seven to eight feet.
“These do get quite large,” Walker said. “Most people get them as babies. We don’t usually sell them because we try to make sure that people are aware of what they’re getting into and they’re not just going to get an animal and be like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know it was going to get eight feet long.'”
Bates said if you find an exotic animal like the boa out in the community, call a conservation officer.