A SNAKE farm in Malaga has been placed under investigation after it sent a hatchling in a sealed and unventilated box via an unauthorised courier service.
Animal welfare concerns have grown after Policia Local officers were alerted by the buyer of the reptile that the animal was to arrive via an unauthorised animal transport company.
Agents of the Nature Protection Group (GRUPRONA) in Malaga have identified the seller who now faces charges of animal abuse.
The buyer paid €35 online to a private seller of heterodon nasicus, also known as a hognose snake, a relatively small, stout-bodied breed of snake.
The inadequate conditions of transport could have killed the animal due to asphyxiation, starvation or blows received during the handling of the package because of incorrect labelling.
According to a statement from the Policia Local, the seller indicated that the shipment was used because it was ‘cheaper’ and that ‘nothing would happen to the animal.’
The courier company has also been investigated.
Moments before the delivery, the transport firm received a phone call from the sender of the shipment instructing that the package was not to be delivered under any circumstances.
The Policia Local, who were alerted prior the delivery of the package, opened the parcel in the courier company’s office.
A 15cm-long snake was found inside a small plastic box with very fine holes inside another airtight container.
The snake has been transferred to the Municipal Animal Health Centre for a veterinary examination.
A corresponding report has been sent to the Junta’s Environmental Prosecutor’s Office.
More about the heterodon nasicus:
Heterodon nasicus, also known as a hognose snake, is a relatively small, stout-bodied snake.
The nose scale is formed in an upturned manner, providing a ‘hog-like’ look.
The species is not dangerous to humans, although toxins in the hognose’s bite are thought to be harmful to smaller creatures such as its preferred wild food source – toads.
A bite from this rear-fanged snake is not regarded as dangerous to humans, with no deaths or even allergic reactions from hognose bites recorded.
Spain is home to 13 different types of snakes. Five of them are fatal to humans; the asp viper, Lataste’s viper, Seoane’s viper, false smooth snake and the den adder or common viper.
Fortunately, of the estimated 50 snakebite deaths a year in Europe, only three to six occur in Spain.
This year has seen the death of a young man in Andalucia, who owned 25 snakes and received a fatal bite from his Asian viper.