Clearwater Secondary School principal Alan Stel had one more crisis to deal with during his final days of being in charge at the local high school – a snake got loose and was missing inside the building for several days.
“A three or four-foot ball python escaped from its cage last Thursday during a move,” Stel said. “He was found yesterday (Tuesday) by our intrepid serpent whisperer Monika Menard in the very room in which he was lost. She and her dog sniffed it out and gently returned him to his home. In the meantime he caused quite a sensation simply by being on the lam.”
The snake, which goes by the name of Reginald, has been a fixture in one of the science labs at the school for several years, Stel said.
It is non-poisonous, has quite a docile temperament, and was often handled by students.
Following the end of the school year the aquarium it was in was apparently moved and the lid left ajar. The heat source was turned off and, at the same time, the carpets in the science lab were being cleaned.
It is believed the combination of lack of heat plus noise caused the snake to seek more comfortable accommodations.
Several staff members did an extensive search once it was noticed that the snake was missing, said Stel.
When it was not found there was considerable consternation, particularly among those working in the school who have a phobia of snakes.
Consultations with various wildlife experts did not result in any useable suggestions.
The snake went missing on Thursday, June 28.
On the following Tuesday, custodian Monika Menard brought in her dog, Ellie, a lab-husky cross, to aid in the search. Her son, Cedrik, also took part.
“He’s quite a hunter,” she said of her dog. “He alerted as soon as he went into the room.”
After a few minutes Cedrik and the dog located the snake next to a desk across the room from its aquarium. Menard speculated it had been hiding in or behind a drawer in the desk.
It was put back into its aquarium, apparently none the worse for its adventure.
Stel praised Menard for her initiative.
“There were a lot of very relieved people,” he said. “Some members of staff were having very strong reactions to the knowledge that a snake was somewhere in the school.”
Now that the crisis is over, Stel has gone back to preparing to take over at Penticton Secondary.
As for Reginald the ball python, he will go into retirement and be given a home elsewhere, the principal said.