An East Patchogue man has been charged with animal cruelty after he put three lizards and a snake outside in a metal storage container where they froze to death, authorities said.
The Suffolk County SPCA said Thursday that William Rodriquez, 29, has been charged with four counts of animal cruelty — each carrying a penalty of up to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000.
SPCA Chief Roy Gross said Rodriquez faces arraignment June 12 in First District Court in Central Islip.
It was not clear if Rodriquez was represented by an attorney.
Gross said the reptiles, including a ball python and a savannah monitor lizard, were all legal to own.
But, Gross said, investigators determined that after a family confrontation about the reptiles being in the home, Rodriquez moved them outside into a backyard shed or storage container, where they froze to death in the unheated structure.
Gross said such reptiles, which are coldblooded, need an ambient temperature of between 100 and 110 degrees to survive.
“He knew leaving them out there in that cold, there’s no way they were going to survive,” Gross said, adding: “Whether they’re reptiles or dogs and cats, they’re still animals — and are afforded the same protection, under the law . . . When he moved them outside the house, it was a death sentence for those animals.”
Gross said investigators went to the home after a complaint filed by someone who knew of the reptiles had died. He said investigators recovered remains at the scene.
The SPCA asks anyone who witnesses animal cruelty or neglect in Suffolk to contact them at 631-382-7722. All calls will remain confidential.