You’d be forgiven for thinking that things couldn’t get any weirder after Toronto's sewer snake became the talk of the town Tuesday. The massive python was found slithering up from a sewer grate at an Esso gas station in Toronto. However, things in Toronto’s east end have taken another slithery twist, as the family who claimed the sewer-grate snake was their missing pet, have come to realize the snake is, in fact, an imposter, and not their beloved pet snake after all.

At first, the Sannella family was thrilled when they heard a large python snake was found near an Esso gas station in Toronto just after 12 a.m. on Tuesday morning. The discovery of the slithering creature, just 3 kilometres from their east-end Toronto home, led the family to believe the snake must be their missing pet, an 11-month-old ball python, Monty, who had vanished from their home in June.

Upon hearing news of the snake discovery, the Sannella family rushed to their local animal services to retrieve their pet, who had gone missing from their home on the night of June 13. Relieved and excited to have found Monty, the family took their snake home without so much as a second thought.

However, that same night, Monty started showing signs of unusual behaviour. Samantha Sannella, whose 18-year-old son purchased the snake in November last year, noticed the snake lifting up hollow logs in his aquarium, something Monty had never done before. Upon closer examination of some old photos of Monty and his unique patterns, the family realized this snake was not actually Monty at all.

It was a rough night’s sleep for Samantha Sannella, who noted that the imposter snake seemed "quite a bit stronger" than Monty. In order to prevent the snake escaping from his cage during the night, Sannella told CBC News she was forced to place books on top of his terrarium. "The last thing I want is two missing snakes in my house," she said.

The family named the imposter snake ‘Sneaky Pete,’ and are now in the process of trying to find his real owners, as well as locate their own still-missing python. After seeing a post on Facebook from a man searching for his missing python, Sannella was feeling hopeful. However, Sneaky Pete was also not that man’s lost pet.

Their quest to locate the city’s missing snakes and owners led Sannella to wonder, "How many pythons are loose in the sewers of Toronto?” Answering her own question, she said, “There's a lot, obviously."

While they wait to find his real owner, the family are caring for Sneaky Pete, who seems “extremely happy” in his new home. While Sannella is still hopeful that Monty will come back, she said the ordeal has made her reconsider keeping a snake as a pet.

Ball pythons typically grow to be about 1.2 meters in length and are non-venomous. They kill their prey using an ‘ambush’ technique, jumping out and striking with their teeth, before wrapping their coil around and killing by constriction. 

So if you’re walking around Toronto’s streets this weekend, keep an eye out for any sewer gates — you never quite know what is lurking beneath!

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