The line between “collector” and “hoarder” can be a thin one, but one telling sign of the unfortunate turn from hobby to hot mess is the conditions in which the collection is kept.
One man in San Antonio crossed that line Wednesday, authorities say, as they seized his collection of more than 100 constrictor-type snakes from his home on the city’s South Side.
Some of the snakes in the man’s home were as long as 15 feet, KSAT reported, and they were all being kept in “deplorable” conditions, authorities told the station.
Many of the snakes will require medical attention, WOAI reported.
Animal Care Services field supervisor Joel Skidmore told KENS that the agency had worked with the man for more than a week, stressing that the serpents occupying his home deserved more humane living conditions. A call on the city’s 311 non-emergency line alerted officials to the big ball of snakes being kept in the 2-bedroom home and surrounding property, he said.
“We have spoken to him numerous times,” Skidmore told reporters at the scene of the slithering seizure. “The snakes were kept in an assortment of containers. ”The information we gathered is that at one point the person was a breeder.”
On Wednesday, a team from the city’s Dangerous Area Response Team served a warrant at the man’s home and began collecting his collection. The team of officials descending upon the man’s snake den included a herpetologist from the San Antonio Zoo and experts from nearby SeaWorld, the newspaper reported.
“They were inside the home and in a shed in the back yard,” Skidmore told KTSA, but none of the snakes were roaming free. He declined, however, to identify the snake collector who was served with the warrant.
Hundreds of feeder mice and rats were also being kept in an elaborate shelving complex in a garage behind the house, Skidmore said. KTSA reported that in addition to the more than 100 snakes, 300 to 400 feeder mice and rats were taken from the property.
None of the snakes seized in the raid are venomous. The San Antonio Express-News reported that the snakes had been identified as reticulated pythons and ball pythons.
Animal Care officials told KSAT that the man will have to appear before a judge to ask for the snakes to be returned to him. If they are not, the pythons will not be made available for adoption. The rats and mice he kept, though, will still be used to feed the snakes.