A mother and baby who were trapped in a Stockholm apartment with several poisonous snakes have been rescued by police. A 43 year-old man, who was keeping two puff adders and six green Asian pit vipers in his flat in the suburb of Varberg, has been arrested on suspicion of holding the two hostage after allegedly threatening to release the deadly reptiles if they tried to leave.
Large numbers of police were dispatched on Sunday (February 13) along with celebrity animal expert Jonas Wahlstrom who has taken the snakes to Stockholm’s Skansen Aquarium where he is director. “The police asked me to take care of the snakes. I found only eight – a snake may have escaped,” Wahlstrom told the Expressen newspaper.
The venom of green Asian pit vipers can cause tissue damage, organ degeneration and disrupt blood clotting in humans. Such exposure is extremely painful and can lead to permanent injury, such as loss of limbs, without prompt treatment. The puff adder, which is considered the deadliest snake in Africa, can grown to more than two metres in length and holds enough venom to kill up to five people.
The apartment also contained two lizards, one a metre long and the other half-a-metre long. The flat, strewn with cigarette butts, rubbish and empty bottles, was likened to a “garbage dump” by police when it was raided.
“We have classified the crime as unlawful detention. However, I cannot say any more because there is much more to do in the investigation and more will be revealed,” Ove Svantesson, officer in command at Soderort police, told Expressen.
(Photo for illustration only. Species not directly mentioned in article.)