Photo courtesy of VenomousReptiles.orgSource: TheAge.com
October 18, 2006 - 11:14AM
Thieves who escaped with four snakes from a Sydney wildlife park have been warned to take care, because they stole one of the world's most venomous species. Experts say one bite from the Collett's snake, taken from the Featherdale Wildlife Park at Doonside in Sydney's west, could be fatal.
Thieves slipped into the reptile enclosure at the park about 1.30am (AEST) on Wednesday, police said. Security guards found the roller shutter to the reptile house kicked in and at least four snakes taken from their enclosures. Wildlife park curator Chad Staples said a two metre-long, red and black Collett's snake was missing. "This species is ranked the 18th most venomous snake in the world," he said. "People should use extreme caution and should not approach or handle this species if found. A bite from a Collett's snake, apart from being potentially fatal, is known for being extremely painful and can cause long-term illness."
Two brown Arafura file snakes and a water python, both non-venomous, have also been stolen, Mr Staples said. The Arafura file, a water snake, is very difficult to look after. "This is an extremely bad time of year for the snake to be removed from its environment as it does not handle stress well and any change in temperature, water quality or food will be detrimental to the snake's health, maybe even fatal," Mr Staples said.
The water python, brown on top with a bright yellow underbelly, is also a sensitive breed. Mr. Staples said it appeared the thieves had prior knowledge of the reptile exhibits and were able to forcibly enter and leave the building quickly. The curator has appealed for the return of the snakes, saying there would be no questions asked. "If anyone sees these snakes, please use extreme caution and contact the police immediately," he said.
None of these species are endemic to the Sydney region.