Poisonous stowaway snake sealed in room of UK wildlife hospital

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VETS at a wildlife hospital have been forced to tape up the door of a room that is currently housing a highly poisonous stowaway snake from India.

South Essex Wildlife Hospital staff were called to handle the scaled viper on Saturday after it was discovered in a crate of slate by local Stonemasons.

The stowaway, known as being one of the world’s deadliest snakes, had hitched a ride on a boat for over 4,000 miles from India, hidden in a container.

Deadly snake pictured at South Essex Wildlife Hospital
The stowaway Scaled Viper pictured on top of a newspaper in the wildlife hospital.

In India the reptile is said to claim as many as 50,000 lives a year, making it one of the deadliest creatures on earth. 

Reptile experts from the wildlife hospital went to collect the aggressive snake from the stonemasons.

Concerned for their safety, staff placed the snake inside a box and locked it in a room before sealing up the door frame to prevent it escaping.

Warning notices have been placed on the door to prevent anyone from accidentally stumbling in on the deadly reptile. 

The notice reads: “Do not enter. Dangerous animal.”

“If you need to enter, speak to Tom or Steve.”

The snake is still currently locked in the room awaiting collection from specialists who will decide on the creature’s fate.

South Essex Wildlife Hospital posted about their scary visitor on Saturday, writing: “In addition to many British wildlife species coming in today we also had a call about a critter that is definitely not in the country it should have been.

“We had a call regarding a stowaway snake that had arrived in a shipping container from India. 

“As it was identified as a saw scaled viper and having had one before we understood fully the gravity of just how dangerous these reptiles are, they are way up there in the top few most deadly snakes (it is believed to have killed more people than all the other species combined).

“The authorities that had already been contacted were not responding to the situation so our reptile expert Steve and Tom the vet collected the very agitated and aggressive animal before someone was likely killed. It is now in a locked box in a sealed room.

“Tom taped up the door with warning signs, awaiting collection from an appropriate facility that Sue, our manager has contacted.

Vets tape up door to keep staff safe from snake
The snake was sealed inside a room to safeguard staff.

“We are glad not to have to deal with venomous creatures too often but feel sad for the snake that we can’t give it its freedom and get it back home.”

The post has received hundreds of likes and comments from shocked social media users.

Stephen Hatton said: “It was my friend that found it. It had come into the country from India with a consignment of Indian stone. 

“They first phoned the police who said they can’t keep it as you need a special licence. My friend said he had no intention of keeping it just wanted advice on how to deal with the situation!”

Carol Wilson wrote: “Are people actually allowed to keep these dangerous reptiles as pets? I appreciate places like zoos etc do, but it’s a very controlled environment and I believe they store anti-venom but a normal person in a house WHAT IF.”

Carla Belcher commented: “Thank you for helping him, I know he’s very dangerous but very beautiful as well.”

Tracy Allgrove said: “Oh wow, how brave, I love all creatures but even I’d be shaking in my boots. Well done guys!”

Speaking today, Sue Schwal, manager of South Essex Wildlife Hospital, said: “It came from a stonemasons. They received a crate from a port containing paving slates.

“We were concerned for the public but also for the animal.

“We are sort of used to it, we had one of these snakes a couple of years ago, so we weren’t too flustered about it.”

South Essex Wildlife Hospital building
South Essex Wildlife Hospital building.

She added: “Members of the public don’t appreciate just how dangerous it was.

“It’s it far too dangerous to let anyone near it.

“We trust our staff but you just never know, it’s a wild animal.

“For example, someone could have gone in and thought it may need water and try to give it some, we just couldn’t take that risk.”

“Even taking the photograph was a great risk.”

“We are waiting for the snake to be picked up, from there it will be kept and looked after.”

The mortality rate of the scaled viper is around 20%, but due to the availability of anti-venom, deaths in the UK are quite rare.