Pet Boa Constrictor No Reason To Deny Custody

When it comes to child custody battles during divorce, the issues can range from the mundane to the bizarre. In one recent Canadian case, if the mother had her way, her ex-spouse might have had to choose between his boa constrictor and his six-year- old daughter. But the judge's ruling has allowed the father to continue enjoying the company of both his unusual pet and his child.

Separating Fact From Fear

After initially hearing the case, Judge Clément Samson granted father, J.G., custody of his daughter every other weekend. But mother, C.C., objected, based on the potential dangers of boa constrictors, known for coiling themselves around their prey and killing them through suffocation.

For C.C., the fears are vivid. Before the pair went their separate ways, J.G. owned two snakes. After one occasion in which he put one of the serpents on the couple's bed, C.C. has never since been able to shake off the bad memories.

Reputation of boa constrictors notwithstanding, the judge deliberated over the facts of the case before him. J.G.'s 10-year snake is non-venomous, only 5 cm in girth, and long past the stage of further growth. It has also never escaped its tank before.

Setting aside subjective fears, the judge wrote: "Legal knowledge does not reveal a case where a child was attacked by a boa." He concluded that more likely danger involved the child's opening the door to have a closer look.

The judge allowed J.G. shared custody, but ordered him to install a lock on the snake tank's sliding door, and to keep it secured during the child's biweekly visits.

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