Media Facts

From time to time, reptiles appear in public news and media. Unfortunately, reptiles are usually portrayed in a harmful light that discredits and causes public fear towards animals in general. At Reptilia, we like to dispel errors in news media coverage regarding reptiles and strive to educate our Guests truthfully in regards to reptiles.

Below you’ll find some news articles that involved reptiles and our corrective facts on the articles. If you’re writing an article and would like us to help with factual information, please reach out to us!

Reptile Facts in Media

You can read the original articles here:

https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/outbreak-of-salmonella-in-six-canadian-provinces-linked-to-snakes-and-rodents-1.4724023

https://www.vicnews.com/news/salmonella-in-outbreak-in-canada-linked-to-rodents-and-snakes/

 

Summary

92 cases of salmonellosis across Canada from salmonella bacteria since April 2017 which have resulted in 6 hospitalizations, suspected to be linked to rodents and snakes.

 

The Facts

  • Although some of the ill have reported exposure to handling snakes or rodents, at this time no definitive causation has been found
  • Public Health is currently investigating the cases
  • CDC has reported 7 salmonella outbreaks in 2019, all food related
  • It is likely that even if some of the cases are due to rodents or snakes, not all of them are
  • Simple hygienic practices such as keeping an enclosure clean, washing hands after handling, and not allowing animals to climb on food preparation surfaces greatly reduce risk of infection
  • Since 1996, Reptilia has conducted hands on interactions with animals and has never had a guest or Cast Members become ill from exposure to salmonella 
  • Although transmission is relatively rare from reptiles that are kept clean and healthy, Reptilia has health check protocols to further ensure the safety of our Guests

 

Salmonella and Reptiles

This bacteria is likely the most famous reptilian zoonoses. Almost 1000 serotypes of salmonella have been identified in reptiles, many of which can infect humans and exist without causing disease in the reptile host. Furthermore, salmonella has an amazing ability to sit dormant for long periods, and may be shed transiently from an infected reptile. The bacteria is even known to coat eggs as they are laid, passing on to future offspring.

Although most commonly associated with turtles, other reptiles can also be carriers. Infection can be serious, especially in very young children and the immunocompromised. Although symptoms are typically like a nasty bout of the flu, in extreme cases they can lead to meningitis or brain abscesses. Fortunately infection is relatively rare and can be fairly easily mitigated by basic hygienic practices. The vast majority of reported salmonella cases in humans (>97%) are not related to reptiles.

You can read the original articles here:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/escaped-crocodile-montreal-1.5397213

https://globalnews.ca/news/6299334/alligator-crosses-montreal-street/

 

Summary

A small American alligator escaped out of the back of a minivan and into the street in Montreal, Quebec before being quickly recaptured without incident. The animal was held legally under permits, and owned by an educational outreach company called Repti-Zone. 

 

The Facts

  • The crocodilians was a juvenile American Alligator, native to the South East United States
  • Over the course of about 20-30years, American alligators go between 8-12ft long and can live around 80 years of age
  • These animals are often smuggled into Canada for the pet trade, where depending on municipal bylaws, they may or may not be legal to own
  • When they get large, these animals are often abandoned and surrendered by the public, and it is up to overburdened zoological facilities to try and provide homes for them, but space is limited
  • Had this alligator not been recaptured, it would not have been able to survive the Canadian winter, unlikely surviving even a day do to the temperature
  • This alligator posed virtually no threat to public, pet or wildlife unless directly harassed
  • Although professional facilities can provide a sanctuary for these animals that have enormous educational potential, organizations need to follow strict protocols to securely transport animals for public safety and animal welfare

You can read the original articles here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/11/01/python-indiana-death-laura-hurst/

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-50261417

 

Facts to Help Make Sense of this Tragic Incident 

  • Reticulated pythons are the world’s longest species of snake, having been documented up to 28ft in length, however specimens over 15ft are relatively rare Reticulated pythons are a nonvenomous, constricting snake Reticulated pythons are one of two species of snakes that have been documented to have consumed humans, however it is rare and does not happen often Pythons can eat large meals up to 5 times the size of their own heads, however this does mean it takes a very large snake to consume a relatively small human Snakes of any size do not typically see humans as prey due to our large size and foreign smell Feeding mistakes happen most often in captivity when a snake grows accustomed to being fed by people. They have a good sense of smell but poor eyesight, so care and experience is important to prevent bites, which are typically inconsequential Snakes will often tighten their muscles if they feel threatened or nervous. Attempts to remove the snake incorrectly can encourage the snake to hold on tighter.

You can read the original articles here:

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/11/03/new-brunswick-brothers-killed-by-python-were-blue-court-told.html

https://www.cnn.com/2013/08/06/world/americas/canada-snake-deaths/index.html

 

Facts to Help Make Sense of this Tragic Incident 

  • Although African Rock Pythons are one of only two snake species that have been documented consuming humans, it is incredible rare, and when it does occur, is typically a very large snake on smaller humans.
  • Although humans typically don’t smell like snake food, the day of the incident, the boys had visited a petting farm and interacted with farm animals.
  • The snake’s enclosure was not properly secured, and the snake was able to escape
  • There was construction happening in the household, and vent covers were not in place, allowing the escaped snake to navigate through the home
  • Likely smelling the scent of farm animals which mimics the smell of typical prey, the snake had a feeding response, constricting and killing both boys at the same time. One boy was wrapped around his chest, and the other around his neck
  • The snake did not try and consume the boys, likely not identifying them as food once the initial feeding response had ended, and returned to it’s home enclosure

You can read the original articles here:

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/07/07/alligatorlike_creature_spotted_in_high_park_pond.html

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/caiman-spotted-swimming-in-pond-in-torontos-high-park/article19498418/

 

The Facts!

  • Spectacled caiman are a species of alligator native to South America. 
  • They are illegal to be owned as pets in the city of Toronto but many people will purchase them as babies anyways.
  • They can be quite defensive, with an incredibly powerful bite, potentially reaching up to 8 feet and living over 60 years
  • Often after having them for a couple year, people will try to revoke or release them
  • The High Park Caiman was too small to be a threat to people, pets or most wildlife. Had he not been rescued, he would have been eaten or would have perished over the winter. 
  • Reptilia assisted Toronto Police and Toronto Animal Services by recovering the caiman from the pond and providing it with a home. 

Want to Fact Check your Article? Contact us!

We’re always happy to collaborate with facts and details regarding reptile-related news. Give us a call or send an email!

(905) 761 – 6223 | vaughanfa@reptilia.org