British Columbia

Thousands of spiders, scorpions, turtles seized from Surrey, B.C., home

Charges are pending after thousands of spiders, scorpions, snakes and turtles were found in a vacant Surrey home that is believed to have been involved in trading exotic wild animals.

Charges pending after 2,000 animals and insects found living in 'horrific' conditions

Veterinarian Adrian Walton holds a giant millipede, one of thousands of animals seized from a Surrey home earlier this month. (CBC)

Charges are pending after thousands of spiders, scorpions, snakes and turtles were found in a vacant Surrey home that is believed to have been involved in trading exotic wild animals.

The animals were found the evening of Aug. 8, B.C. conservation officer Nicole Caithness said.

Conservation officers were called to the home after Surrey bylaw officers, who were inspecting the property for unrelated reasons, found reptiles and turtles on the back deck, she said.

Investigators found three box turtles and three Central American wood turtles, along with about 2,000 different kinds of arachnids and scorpions inside the house. Some animals were dead and others, like the turtles, are illegal to own under the Wildlife Act. 

"This is not our first interaction with this individual for unlawful possession of live wildlife, so we are currently working to get charges approved by Crown so that we can take him to court," Caithness said in an email.

A whip scorpion, also known as a vinegaroon, is one of the animals seized from the house and has been adopted by staff at the Dewdney Animal Hospital in Maple Ridge. (CBC)

'Horrific' conditions

Some of the animals are being cared for at Dewdney Animal Hospital in Maple Ridge. The veterinary practice is accustomed to caring for exotic animals, but not this many. 

Head veterinarian Adrian Walton is caring for several giant millipedes and a whip scorpion, or vinegaroon, named Carl.

Walton said inside the Surrey house were over 80 scorpions, seven giant centipedes, almost 300 adult spiders, a black widow spider with 500 babies, and almost 1,400 baby scorpions and other spiders and animals. 

All living in conditions he called "horrific."

"There's a lot of animals there that were suffering from insufficient space, food or water," he said.

"These containers that these animals were in were basically just deli cups that you'd get your potato salad in."

Two giant millipedes curl into each other. The insects are among the thousands of animals seized from a Surrey home earlier this month. (CBC)

A large number of the animals found in the home were venomous which are prohibited under Surrey bylaws, Walton said.

Some of the non-venomous animals were saved and some were donated to the Victoria Bug Zoo, he said. But many of the insects and arachnids had to be destroyed.

Shelley Joaquin of the Surrey Animal Resource Centre said that facility also took in some of the animals. 

"It was definitely startling to know that there's that large a number of venomous animals in one home … and just seeing the horrid conditions that these animals were kept in. It was very inhumane."

Walton said it's believed the animals were destined for the pet trade. Up to 70 per cent of animals in the wild pet trade die before reaching a store, he added. 

"The international trade in exotic animals … is something that we really as a society have to reconsider," Walton said. 

"I do recommend that that house be fumigated, because there was, I'm sure, some escapees."

With files from Brady Strachan

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