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Campbellton Brothers Noah and Connor Barthe Killed by Escaped African Rock Python

Noah (L) and Connor Barthe (Family photo)

Noah (L) and Connor Barthe (Family photo)

Two young brothers from the Canadian province of New Brunswick have been identified as the victims of a deadly python attack.

Connor Barthe, age 7, and his 5-year-old brother Noah Barthe were found dead in a Campbellton, New Brunswick apartment where they were attending a sleepover on Monday, CBC reports. The apartment is located above Reptile Ocean, which according to the National Post used to be a small zoo before becoming an exotic pet store.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Sgt. Alain Tremblay told reporters that an African rock python, which had been housed in a glass enclosure on the second floor of the building where the deadly incident occurred, escaped through the top of its cage and slithered into the ventilation system above. The snake then came through the ceiling, entered the living room of the apartment where the two boys were sleeping and, it is believed, strangled them to death.

A criminal investigation has been launched. African rock pythons, the largest snake species in Africa– they can grow to be 30 feet (9.1 meters) long and weigh up to 250 pounds (113 kg), are barred under New Brunswick’s Exotic Wildlife Regulation. The snake that is believed to have killed the Barthe brothers measured between 11 and 14 feet (3.5 to 4.5 meters) in length and weighed about 100 pounds (45 kg), CBC reports.

Herpetologists and other reptile experts seemed baffled by the bizarre event.

“It’s strange, I’m just trying to piece it together,” said Lee Parker, facilities manager at Reptilia in Vaughn, Ontario, Canada’s largest reptile zoo. “They don’t go on killing sprees… it doesn’t make sense to me,” Parker told CBC.

Although rare, such attacks are not unprecedented. In 2010, an African rock python killed and swallowed a 10-year-old South African boy whole. In 1999, a 3-year-old Illinois boy was crushed to death by a python while he lay sleeping.

USA Today reports autopsies will be performed on the Barthe brothers on Tuesday.

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