A man was found dead in his home with more than 100 snakes Wednesday in Charles County, Maryland, officials say. The snakes, some venomous and illegal in the state, all were in cages when sheriff’s deputies arrived.
The man, a 49-year-old whose name was not immediately released, was found in his house in Pomfret. A medical examiner will determine his cause of death.
A neighbor on Raphael Drive noticed he hadn’t seen the man in about a day, county spokeswoman Jennifer Harris said. The neighbor went to the door and was able to see through a window that the man had fallen. He called 911 for help.
When deputies arrived, they found the man unresponsive and the house full of 124 snakes, including a 14-foot-long Burmese python.
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Animal control officials responded and began to examine the huge snake collection, Harris said.
“Our chief animal control officer said in his more than 30 years of experience, he had not encountered this kind of thing before," she said.
The collection included venomous snakes that are illegal to keep in Maryland, Harris said. The breeds found included pythons, rattlesnakes, cobras and black mambas, Harris said.
Charles County animal control officials were able to isolate the non-venomous snakes. They brought in experts to handle the venomous snakes.
A crew spent hours on Thursday working to get the snakes out after the late man’s mother gave permission for them to be taken away. A man could be seen hauling a huge yellow snake out of the house in a clear plastic bin.
The non-venomous snakes were set to be taken to Virginia by a licensed handler; the venomous snakes were headed to North Carolina with a second licensed handler. The handlers had to warm up their cars for about a half-hour to make them warm enough to safely transport the reptiles.
The snakes appeared to have been cared for meticulously, the county spokeswoman said. Officials believe every snake is accounted for.
“They were all very properly secured. They were racked. He did not keep a lot of furniture inside the home, so there was no place if a snake, for example, were to escape, where it could hide or harm anybody," Harris said.
Officials do not believe the snakes pose a risk to the public. If one were to escape, it's not believed to be able to survive the area’s cold weather. If anyone in the area does see a snake, they are asked to call the sheriff’s office.
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In an unrelated case last month in Montgomery County, Maryland, a homeowner burned down their house while trying to chase off snakes, officials said. The Poolesville resident tried to use smoke to fight a snake infestation and accidentally started a huge fire, the county fire department said. No one was hurt but the fire caused over $1 million in damage. “Status of snakes undetermined,” a spokesman added.