Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us Click here for details »
Three deadly snakes found in council house in Pitsea
7:00am Wednesday 11th September 2013 in Echo News
Sarah Moran, Basildon council’s animal control officer, displays a photo of one of the copperhead snakes
UNSUSPECTING council workers were left rattled after finding three deadly snakes at a home in Pitsea.
The slippery surprise came as Basildon council’s animal control officer, Sarah Moran, and tenancy and estate officer Loraine Melville were called to advise a council tenant about their dog.
But when they went into the house they found three deadly snakes, a western diamondback rattlesnake and two copperheads, which were being kept without the required licences.
Sarah knew something was up when she opened a door upstairs and heard the distinctive sound of a rattlesnake and then saw it trying to get out of its glass tank.
She said: “As soon as I pushed the door handle down it started. It was incredibly loud.
“It was very big and would have been extremely strong and could’ve pushed the glass back if it wanted to get out. It was striking the glass.
“It was very agitated and stressed due to the conditions it was being kept in, they were just not adequate.”
Mrs Moran said she didn’t immediately recognise the snakes, which are all types of pit viper, but once she knew what she was dealing with she had to keep a cool head.
She added: “It wasn’t what I expected at all. When I saw what it was I just thought ‘you’ve got to be joking’.
“It’s no good getting scared in that situation, you have to stay quite calm.”
Tony Meech, the council’s senior environmental health officer, was brought in and identified the two other snakes as copperheads.
All three snakes were seized under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act.
He said: “Copperheads are venomous, which is why a licence is required to keep them, but the vivariums had no locks and were in a poor condition, having not been cleaned for a long time.
Also, the snakes did not have any water.”
An Essex Police wildlife crime officer was also called and the council employed expert handlers from Specialist Wildlife Services to remove the snakes.
It is hoped they will be relocated to licensed zoos or handed to specialist keepers.
Many exotic animals do not make good pets as they require specialist knowledge, experience, care and commitment in terms of the time and money needed to keep them.
Some also require a licence, but Mrs Moran said she believed people keeping dangerous species was a widespread issue.
She said: “You only have to look on the internet to see how many venomous snakes, spiders and scorpions there are for sale – it’s quite frightening.”
An investigation is now underway to establish how the the tenant managed to get hold of the dangerous reptiles. It is not known how long they had been in the property.
Comments are closed on this article.