A man is facing charges for hoarding hundreds, possibly thousands of exotic animals in a rental home in Surrey, B.C., according to the province’s conservation officer service.
Veterinarian Dr. Adrian Walton told the Surrey Now-Leader the city’s bylaw department asked him to attend the house on Aug. 8 after someone said they spotted a large number of reptiles on a deck.
Walton said when he first arrived at the home, he looked in a window and immediately saw an entire room with deli cups full of bugs, specifically spiders and scorpions.
Due to the poor condition the animals were in, Walton said the B.C. Conservation Officer Service quickly obtained a warrant that was executed around 11 p.m. that evening.
After investigating the home Walton said it was obvious to him that the animals in the house had either arrived or were being prepared for wholesale shipment. He estimated there were thousands of crawling critters in the home.
“This is a situation we deal with in the pet trade – the international and even national transport of animals. What we know from various studies is the mortality rate is approximately 70 per cent,” he said. “We have serious concerns about the ethics of that. So to see such a large volume of animals, many of which were not in the best of condition, it’s very upsetting to someone who actually sees these animals as incredibly unique creatures.”
The veterinarian said after discovering what animals were in the home, they were in a difficult situation. Most of the animals were tarantulas and scorpions, which are venomous and not legal in Surrey. Others were unidentifiable because they were so young.
“Some animals in there that were highly venomous, that no group is going to adopt out due to liability issues, my understanding is that the decision were made that those animals were not adoptable so they were destroyed,” Walton said.
In an emailed statement to the Now Leader, B.C.’s conservation service said a man who is known to them in connection with the incident is facing “multiple charges” under the Wildlife Act.
Walton’s Maple Ridge clinic has cared for the animals and insects, but many since have been taken to the Victoria Bug Zoo or the Surrey Animals Resource Centre.
In a Facebook post last week, the zoo said as of Sept. 4, vinegaroons would be available to go to new homes for an adoption fee of $40.
“We will adopt out a maximum of two to each person – however, this species is solitary and each should be kept alone in its own enclosure,” the post said. “Some may be pregnant, we respectfully ask that any vinegaroons that lay eggs be temporarily returned to the zoo so we can care for the babies.”