Nearly 200 reptiles seized in Oslo raid

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Police in Oslo think they’ve cracked an international ring involved in illegal breeding and sales of snakes and other reptiles, after they raided a home in Oslo this week. They found between 150 and 200 reptiles, along with live mice believed to be used for feeding.

Police and animal protection authorities told reporters that some of the reptiles were found dead or in very poor condition and a suspect arrested in the case faces charges of cruelty to animals.

The use of live mice to feed the snakes is also considered to be “serious animal abuse,” Andreas Meeg Bentzen of the Oslo Police District told newspaper Aftenposten.

‘Cynical and profit-driven’
“We believe we have uncovered cynical and profit-driven animal abuse and environmental crime of an international character,” Bentzen said. “We suspect that this involves a network that extends beyond Norwegian borders and over several continents.”

Police carried out the raid after tips from police in Australia, who were called upon to examine a package that had been sent from an address in Norway. Bentzen said the package contained 19 living snakes along with cockroaches that apparently had been included in the contents for the snakes to eat during transport.

Most of the snakes found in the home in Oslo were pythons. “All of them were those that can strangle,” said veterinarian Rolf Arne Ølberg from a Norwegian zoo (Dyreparken), who assisted police during their highly unusual raid. “The biggest ones can also bite and two could be characterized as poisonous, but not very strong poison.”

Mum on other raids
The suspect arrested at the scene is a Norwegian man in his 30s, who police believe plays a role in the alleged reptile sales network. The seizures are the largest ever made of illegal reptiles in Norway.

Bentzen wouldn’t immediately say whether other raids or seizures were being carried out elsewhere in connection with the discoveries in Oslo.

The snakes and other reptiles were turned over to animal protection authorities at state agency Mattilsynet, but were expected to be put to death.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund