SANTA FE, New Mexico (Reuters) - Animal control officials confiscated 31 venomous snakes, two tarantulas, two black widow spiders and about 10 scorpions from an Albuquerque apartment, an official involved with the collection said on Friday.
Following an anonymous tip, animal welfare officials were called to the apartment on Thursday.
The reptiles they found were primarily rattlesnakes, which are commonly found in New Mexico, but also included several cobras, including the cape cobra, “which is probably the most venomous of all the cobras,” said Doug Hotle, curator of herpetology at the Albuquerque BioPark.
Hotle, who was called in to help collect the snakes, said the owner did not have the proper permits required to keep such a large number of snakes nor to keep animals such as the cobra that are not native to New Mexico. The city of Albuquerque allows residents to keep up to 14 exotic or wild animals without a permit.
“These are animals for which the hospital is not going to have the ante venom,” Hotle said. “So if he was to take a hit from this snake, the ante venom would have to come from us, and if it’s a species we did not carry, it would take hours and hours to get the ante venom.”
The snakes were being tested on Friday at the BioPark and will eventually be distributed to other institutions and research centers, Hotle said.
The keeping of venomous snakes is widespread throughout the country. A lot of people do it well, Hotle said, but many don’t “and they shine a bad light on the others.”
It was not clear why the man had all the serpents, reptiles and insects in the apartment.
Editing By Corrie MacLaggan and Greg McCune