Forty ball pythons discovered at a Colborne Street motel on Thursday afternoon have been taken into the care of the Brant County SPCA.
Brantford police say officers involved in an investigation found the animals – some up to 1.4 metres long – contained in several plastic storage bins in a room at the motel.
Officers called Brant County SPCA investigators, who seized the snakes.
SPCA officials say the animals were not being suitably cared for and were in distress.
"It is likely someone was going to sell these (snakes)," said Brandon James, an animal cruelty investigator with the Brant County SPCA. "There is quite a big market for them. I can't speculate why they were in the motel room. Breeding is breeding and there is no (provincial law) which makes these snakes illegal, but there is a city bylaw.
"This is the biggest seizure of snakes I have been involved with in 10 years on the job."
Possessing pythons in the City of Brantford contravenes the city's animal control bylaw.
A manager at the Bell City Motel said the snakes belonged to a local couple who had been evicted by their landlord. According to the manager, the couple had only stayed in the room for one night and were out for dinner when police arrived on Thursday.
Reports say the couple may have had young children in the room with them, but police would not confirm that children were present, saying only their investigation is ongoing.
The Brant County SPCA said the snakes were male and female ball pythons, which are the smallest of the African pythons and popular as pets for their docile nature.
"There is a lot of fear of snakes, especially the big ones, which is mostly unfounded," James said. "These guys have been handled well, but I suspect situations could arise when they could be dangerous.
"They lacked water and were in crowded conditions. I don't know how long they were (in the motel)."
James said the pythons seized in Brantford on Thursday are a different breed than the African rock python that killed two boys in New Brunswick earlier this month.
"There is a lot of nervousness and hysteria with the recent incident in New Brunswick," James said. "I have no reason to believe that these snakes would pose the same hazard."
The Ontario government announced this week it was looking into rules covering exotic animals in the wake of the New Brunswick deaths.
The Brant County SPCA planned to transport the snakes out of Brantford late Friday afternoon.
"The individual I'm sending them to has a network of reptile (contacts)," James said. "We don't have the facilities to have them (at the Brant County SPCA) long term."
Brant County SPCA executive director Robin Kuchma said she has never seen a snake seizure of this magnitude.
"We have had various snakes come in, one or two at a time, which have often been abandoned, but never this many," Kuchma said.
The Brant County SPCA continues to conduct an investigation into the matter.
– With files from Torstar News Service