May 21, 2009

Spanish police in standoff with snakes

Spanish police say they are waiting for a shipment of snake venom antidote before entering a Madrid apartment filled with illegal reptiles.

Civil Guard officers in Madrid and zookeepers called in to assist with the operation Wednesday said they are waiting to enter an apartment believed to contain two pythons, five boa constrictors and a rattlesnake, The Times of London reported Thursday.

The officers said local hospitals do not stock venom antidotes for non-native snakes and it could take up to three days for a shipment of the antidote to arrive from Mexico.

The snakes are believed to be in secure cages within the apartment, but authorities said they are not taking the chance that one of the reptiles might be lose.

Police were alerted to the illegally kept pets when their owner, identified as Juan C. M., was checked into a hospital with a rattlesnake bite. He was released two days later and is expected to be charged with possession of dangerous reptiles.