Greater than 1,000 rodents killed in hearth at Westman Reptile Gardens


WINNIPEG – More than 1,000 rodents were killed and a number of buildings were destroyed in a fire in Westman Reptile Gardens east of Brandon, Man on Wednesday.

Erika Shelvey, whose parents own Westman Reptile Gardens, said the fire started around 7 p.m. on Wednesday and started on the electric fence.

“My mother was out at 6:30 and there was nothing. She was in this area, there was no smoke or anything, ”she said.

“The neighbors drove by on a quad bike and noticed smoke around 7:00 am and went to the house to inform them. Then they called 911 and walked away from there. “

The actual reptile garden itself was not affected by the fire; However, nine other buildings were affected, including the feed shed, walk-in freezer, and the rodent building.

Shelvey noted that all of these buildings were completely destroyed along with her father’s truck.

“There’s a wall to the left of a building and that’s about it,” she said.

According to Shelvey, 29 cages containing rats and two guinea pigs were rescued from the rodent building. However, she estimated that more than 1,000 rodents died.

“There were adults and babies,” she said. “We breed them.”

All of the reptiles in the facility are alive and safe, and no people have been injured.

Shelvey noticed that her family is still in shock and trying to come to terms with what happened.

“Obviously my father is broken because he lost the animals,” she said.

“It’s just something you don’t really expect.”

Shelvey said the next steps for her family are to clean up and eventually rebuild whatever has been lost.

“Right now the main goal is to replenish the food for the reptiles,” she said.

She added that a GoFundMe page was created to help cover the cost of the fire.

“We’ve lost everything, all of the food for all animals, so it’s going to be a pretty big expense to replenish,” said Shelvey.

“The buildings themselves will be insured, but the live animals will not.”

The Westman Reptile Gardens will remain closed for the next few days until everything is cleaned up.