Maryland man found dead amid collection of more than 125 snakes

·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Christopher Bellette/Alamy</span>
Photograph: Christopher Bellette/Alamy

Police officers called to a Maryland residence by a concerned neighbour found a 49-year-old man dead – and surrounded by more than 125 venomous and non-venomous snakes, held in tanks on racks.

Related: Homeowner trying to smoke out snake infestation burns down own house

The discovery by Charles county sheriff’s deputies and emergency responders at the house in Pomfret became even more bizarre when they established that none of the reptiles, including a 4.3m (14ft) Burmese python, had escaped or were slithering free.

“At last count it was over 125 individual snakes that were racked or in cages inside the home,” Jennifer Harris, a Charles county government spokesperson, told WUSA news.

“I want to assure anybody living within this neighbourhood that we have not seen that any of the snakes were not properly secured or could have escaped. People were concerned there was some danger but we’ve not determined any of the snakes were not secure after this gentleman’s death.”

The reptiles were removed in the county animal control department’s largest rescue operation to date.

The deceased man, who was not immediately named, and who lived alone according to neighbours, was taken to the medical examiner’s office in Baltimore. Harris said locals appeared unaware that he kept snakes.

A statement from the Charles county sheriff’s office said first responders were alerted by a neighbor “who indicated he went to check on the resident, whom he had not seen since the day before, and observed the resident lying on the floor and unconscious”.

Deputies broke down the front door. They called animal control when they found snakes of varying species and sizes in rooms throughout the house.

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There were so many, Harris said, that snake experts from Virginia and North Carolina were called in to help. Not all of the reptiles were immediately identified, she said.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 7,000 and 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the US each year. The average number of fatalities is five.

The US is home to numerous species of venomous snakes, including rattlesnakes, copperheads, water moccasins and coral snakes. Most snake bites happen outdoors.

“The number of deaths would be much higher if people did not seek medical care,” the CDC says.