Toronto • The mother of two small boys strangled by a 100-pound python in their sleep earlier this week in Canada had posted photos on Facebook last year of the boys playing in and cleaning her neighbor's snake enclosure.
Mandy Trecartin's Facebook page has hundreds of photos of her sons, including a few showing Noah Barthe, 4, and Connor Barthe, 6, happily scrubbing the glass enclosure, which she identified as an anaconda habitat. It was not clear whether the enclosure is the one that held the python.
Preliminary results from autopsies performed on the boys show they died from asphyxiation, officials said Wednesday. Hundreds of people in the shocked community of Campbellton, New Brunswick, gathered for a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening in a show of support for the family.
The snake, an African rock python, apparently escaped from its enclosure, slithered through a ventilation system and fell through the ceiling into the room where the young boys were sleeping, authorities said. They had been visiting the apartment of a friend whose father owned an exotic pet store on the floor below.
Snake expert John Kendrick, a manager at the Reptile Store in Hamilton, Ontario, said that if pythons are startled, they can grab something for stability, and it's possible that the python was just holding on to what it landed on, Kendrick said.
"Once they are in constricting mode, any part of their body that is touching something that moves, they'll wrap it," he said. "I've seen snakes with two different prey items at the same time, one with the back of the body and one with the front. It could have been an incident like that."