Snake keeper stunned after poison deaths

David Howlett of West Pinchbeck claims his pet python and four corn snakes have been poisoned.  Photo by Tim Wilson.
David Howlett of West Pinchbeck claims his pet python and four corn snakes have been poisoned. Photo by Tim Wilson.
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A West Pinchbeck snake breeder who escaped death in a house fire four years ago has suffered more tragedy after five of his pets died.

David Howlett (69) claimed that four corn snakes and a young python were fed with rat poison after someone forced open a shed outside his home where the reptiles were being kept.

The deaths took place overnight between Saturday and Sunday, August 15 and 16, after which police visited the home in order to find out what happened.

Mr Howlett said: “I fed the snakes on the Saturday night and they were quite alright.

“But when I went into the shed where I kept them on Sunday, five of the snakes were curled up.

“I then looked at the feeding dish and found rat poison in them.”

In January 2011, Mr Howlett was woken up by his pet cat Bandit as deadly smoke filled the living room where he was sleeping after a fire broke out in the kitchen of the home he was sharing with his partner and a child.

“The death of the snakes has disappointed me and I was so upset, I couldn’t bring myself to talk for about an hour,” Mr Howlett said.

“Nothing like this has ever happened to me before and I just think it’s wrong.

“I keep snakes as a hobby and this is what you get.”

An RSPCA spokesman said: “This was a highly distressing incident for the owner and it is extremely concerning that these snakes died in such a ​c​ruel ​way. Poison causes a​ ​​slow death and it is likely that the snakes suffered a ​lot of pain and distress before they died.

“We are investigating the matter as ​exposure of an owned animal to unnecessary suffering which is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.”

Any​​one with information should call 0300 123 8018.