Entries in Snakes (5)


Gators, Snakes, Gila Monster Removed from Wisc. Home

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KENOSHA, Wisc.) -- Authorities and zoologists in Wisconsin removed a throng of exotic reptiles being housed in an urban residence this week — including a Gila monster, crocodiles and snakes — as shocked neighbors looked on.

Kenosha police responding to a possible animal cruelty complaint Tuesday entered a home, situated just a few blocks from the city’s central police station, to find a 4-foot skeleton of an alligator in a large aquarium, the body of a large burned snake lying in some weeds, a dead 4- to 5-foot alligator, and the carcass of a fawn.

In the basement of the residence officers found a homemade indoor pond and several aquariums of various sizes throughout the residence with live animals. One contained a large Gila monster, and another contained a 4- to 5-foot crocodile, while one housed multiple snakes. The animals were located in containers in the basement of the residence, where two 6- to 8-foot alligators were found in a homemade indoor pond. A “very large” snapping turtle was found in a tub, police said.

Lt. Brad Kemen said that the animals that were found alive were transported out of the residence.

“They’re in the care of the Racine Zoo, and they’re in good condition,” Kemen told ABC News.

Gregory Maser, an associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, said that he was in a meeting with the president of the Racine Zoo when police got in touch about their discovery.

Maser said that he helped remove the animals, including five rattlesnakes, two American alligators, a crocodile, a Gila monster and a large alligator turtle.

“We had to be careful because the Gila monster is venomous, and the rattlesnakes are venomous,” he said. “The crocodiles were pretty small, I grabbed it. The alligators were a bit bigger. We had a few people, noosed them and taped their mouth.”

Maser said that the house hadn’t been lived in for what seemed like quite a while, and that the electricity and utilities were out. He said that he believed that someone had at least been coming back to occasionally care for the animals, and that the owner had done a lot of work on the house to have ponds in the basement for the animals.

There had been a small fire in the house, Maser said. He confirmed that a snake had been burned on the property.

Where the animals care from, and who owns the residence, is still unknown, according to Kemen.

A Kenosha city ordinance bans residents from owning wild animals, or an animal that may endanger life or property. Violators are to be fined no more than $300, plus prosecution costs, according to the ordinance.

“Once we investigate what animals were there, and they’re identified by the zoo, we’ll determine what if any charges will be filed,” Kemen said. Police declined to identify the owner of the home.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Airport Animal Smugglers Busted in L.A. and Miami

Creatas/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- It’s not unusual to get backed up going through airport security because someone has liquids in their carry-on, but it is unusual when the hold-up is due to snakes, tortoises and birds concealed in cringe-worthy places. These animals were all recent issues at both the Los Angeles International Airport and the Miami International Airport.

In Los Angeles on Monday, a China-bound woman was stopped in security due to bulky clothing. After a pat-down, Transportation Security Administration agents found two birds wrapped in socks and taped to the woman’s leg and chest. She was arrested by U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers on suspicion of smuggling and exporting an endangered species out of the United States.

At least one of the birds was an endangered Golden Parakeet, a species of endangered tropical parrot, according to Richard Thomas, the global communications coordinator for TRAFFIC, an organization that monitors wildlife trade.

Thomas said that endangered parrots can be worth “tens of thousands of dollars,” and that the organization is “wary” of specifying the worth of the animals for fear of encouraging others to attempt to smuggle them.

Last Thursday, a man traveling to Brazil from Miami was caught attempting to get through security with seven small snakes and three small turtles in his pants. All of the animals were stored in women’s hosiery. He was also arrested by U.S. Fish and Wildlife, who took custody of the animals.

The TSA addressed the attempted breaches with humor, posting a TSA blog entry titled, “Snakes On A Plane! And Turtles & Birds, Oh My!!! Almost…”

“TSA’s mission of course is not to find artfully concealed wildlife, but items taped to a passenger’s body could very well be explosives or some other dangerous prohibited item,” wrote “Blogger Bob” of the TSA Blog Team. “We just don’t know until we check it out.”

“Indications are that [animal smuggling] is something that does seems to be happening more frequently,” Thomas said. “But it’s difficult to get a handle on whether it’s a growing problem or whether it’s better enforcement we’re seeing.”

Thomas stresses that security checks have gotten stricter and he strongly discourages people from attempting smuggling operations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Fla. Couple Sentenced in Python Strangling of Daughter

Orange County Corrections Dept.(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Florida python owners Jaren Hare and her boyfriend Charles Darnell were each sentenced to 12 years in prison Wednesday because the snake escaped from its cage and strangled Hare's two-year-old daughter.

Hare, 21, and Darnel, 34, were convicted last month of third-degree murder, manslaughter and child neglect.

The little girl, Shaianna, was killed two years ago when the couple's pet Burmese python escaped from its enclosure and strangled the girl in her crib. The snake's tank was only equipped with a quilt for a lid.

A medical examiner testified during the trial that the albino snake named Gypsy was underweight and trying to eat the girl. The snake hadn't been fed for a month when the girl died and was severely underweight at only 13 pounds, the Orlando Sentinel reported. The snake should have weighed nearly 150 pounds, the Sentinel reported.

Jurors rejected the defense's argument that this was simply a terrible accident.

Hare and Darnell are the parents of a daughter who was born about a month after Shaianna was strangled. It is not clear who is caring for the girl now.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Idaho Family Flees 'Snake House'

Courtesy of Amber Sessions(REXBURG, Idaho) -- Even in this economy, a picture-perfect five bedroom rural home that lists for just over a $100,000 might seem like a real deal.  Except for the fact this home is known by locals in Rexburg, Idaho as the "snake house" because it apparently sits on a nest of non-poisonous garter snakes.

The home has had a fraught history of owners leaving in haste.  Now owned by Chase bank, it was on the market briefly in January and then taken off again.

In September 2009, it seemed like the ideal home for the growing Sessions family.  Ben and Amber Sessions got it for what seemed like a steal, paying less than $180,000.  But soon after moving in, they found snakes slithering inside the residence and all around the property.

"After we moved in, it was really horrible," Amber Sessions told ABC News.  "There were snakes in the walls. We could hear them and then our water tasted like how they smell."

Sessions said they trusted their real estate agent, who, she claimed, told them the snake problem was "made up" by the previous owners so that they could leave their mortgage behind.  He assured them that every precaution was made to keep the snakes away, she said.

But shortly after they moved in, Amber Sessions saw eight snakes in one day.  She texted her agent, she said, and he told her he was going to help them take care of it with traps.

The problem just kept getting worse and three months after they moved in, Amber Sessions, who was pregnant at the time, had enough of what seemed like the serpent house of horrors.  She said she got so scared about coming across a surprise snake in the house that she was worried she would miscarry.

"One day, we caught 43 snakes in total and that was it. The next morning I almost stepped on one in our house and I had enough, we can't do this anymore," she told ABC News. "I don't know how we stayed there as long as we did."

The Sessions family eventually abandoned the home in December 2009, a day after their daughter was born and three months after they moved in.

Real estate experts say the Sessions' story is a hard-learned lesson in the importance of due diligence when searching for your dream home.

"This is a buyer beware nation," New York City broker Brian Lewis told ABC News.  "You have to do your research because if you don't do your research, you end up with a house full of snakes."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Snakes, Wild Animals Invade as Mississippi River Rises

ABC News(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) -- Dangerous reptiles and other animals have been forced to flee their homes, invading residential neighborhoods in Memphis, Tennessee as the Mississippi River continues to swell to record flood levels.

"You'll see your wildlife moving and, of course, their nature is to move to the higher, drier ground ... We'll see this for another couple of weeks," Bob Nations, Director of Shelby County Tennessee's Office of Preparedness, told ABC News.  "[It] probably will have a huge impact on our wildlife in this part of the county."

Residents of flooded areas have had to deal with electrical currents, chemicals and sewage in the water, but also wildlife scrambling for safety.  Tennesseans have had to be careful of rampaging deer but the real danger lies with water moccasins, also known as cottonmouths.

The venomous snakes are known to be aggressive when agitated, opening their mouths wide to reveal a white lining and deadly fangs when confronted.  The snakes are semi-aquatic vipers found near or in water, and are strong swimmers.

"They can cause a fairly serious bite," Dr. James Murphy of Smithsonian National Zoo said to ABC News.  "It's normally not fatal, but there's an enourmous amount of tissue damage.  In fact, I've seen photographs of bites and it looks like somebody's arm has been put in a drill."

The snakes have apparently been popping up everywhere, sometimes clinging to the trees.  People returning to their homes after the flooding subsides might encounter them.

Water moccasins are not the only wildlife threat for residents. The flood waters also contain alligators, spiders, rats and even fire ants, according to experts.

Tennessee wildlife groups have been fielding dozens of calls from worried residents.  The Shelby County Health Department has issued a special alert, warning its residents to be particularly wary of snakes as a veritable jungle of critters scrambles to find safe ground.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio