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SPCA collects 3 poisonous snakes at amnesty day event

Jennifer Pape, humane investigator, handles a common boa

Jennifer Pape, humane investigator, handles a common boa as the Suffolk County SPCA, in cooperation with NYS Department of Environmental Conservation host an Amnesty Day for illegally possessed, protected, endangered and threatened animals at their Headquarters in Smithtown, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Poisonous snakes, an iguana and a boa constrictor.

One normally needs to visit a zoo to see such creatures. But the Suffolk County SPCA often deals with such reptiles — as it did Saturday at its exotic animal amnesty day held at its Hauppauge headquarters in conjunction with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Five exotic reptiles were dropped off Saturday — two copperhead snakes and a rattlesnake, all three of them poisonous; a boa constrictor; and an iguana, officials said.

“Some of the reptiles needed water, some weren’t fed properly,” said Michael Ralbovsky, a herpetologist and curator for Rainforest Reptile Shows Inc., who helped handle the reptiles. “And if the animals gets loose, they can create havoc in the environment.”

Reptiles gathered by the SPCA go to the Rainforest Reptile facility in Beverly, Massachusetts, for educational purposes.

Through the program’s guidelines, people who own illegal exotic reptiles are allowed to drop off their pets and leave without facing legal charges.

Amnesty days began after a surge in cases of abandoned reptiles such as alligators being found near public areas in 2012.

Since its first amnesty day in April 2013, about 60 exotic reptiles have been collected, said Roy Gross, the Suffolk SPCA’s chief of department. Saturday’s was the sixth such event.

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