Pet lover had no licence for lethal snakes and scorpions

Keith Ross shows off one of his pets.
Keith Ross shows off one of his pets.
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A lover of exotic animals has admitted keeping lethal snakes and scorpions at his Motherwell flat without a licence.

Keith Ross’s collection included a king cobra, said to be the world’s largest poisonous snake, as well as vipers and a rattlesnake.

He failed to look after snakes, turtles and lizards properly and also put animal welfare and police officers in danger by insisting there were no dangerous creatures kept in his home.

Ross (26), of Highfield Crescent, appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court this week and admitted 18 charges relating to the animals.

The court heard that when officers arrived at his home for a search in March last year he failed to tell them about dangerous or poisonous snakes and scorpions. He admitted this was “culpable and reckless conduct” which exposed the officers to the risk of harm and endangered their lives.

One snake kept by Ross was a boomslang and this species, according to one science website, has a bite that “makes you bleed from every orifice until you die”.

iflscience.com adds: “What this snake venom does to you would not be out of place in a horror movie.”

Welfare officers found that the boomslang, plus a boa constrictor, python and Californian kingsnake, had been neglected by Ross. Three of the creatures had been confined to inadequately sized plastic tubs, injuries had not been treated and there was evidence of inadequate nutrition having been provided.

Two lizards had not been looked after properly and one was in such a state it had to be put down while Ross had not provided adequate clean water, heating and lighting for two turtles.

Ross admitted eight charges of neglect and nine of keeping “dangerous and wild animals” without a licence from North Lanarkshire Council.

Sentence was deferred until March for background reports.

Ross showed off his exotic collection of pets to the Times & Speaker in 2014.

At that time he said: “I used to be into fish and I upgraded to reptiles when I got my own house.

“I like things that are uncommon, I like to be different. Other people buy dogs and cats, but I buy snakes and lizards.

“The neighbours haven’t mentioned them and the good thing about these sorts of animals is they don’t make any noise to disturb anyone.

“I buy my animals from all over Britain and sometimes I do a deal with the pet shops and they put them on their shipments from Indonesia.

“You can even train them. You get them to come to you and sit. The bigger ones will play fetch although none of mine are capable of that.”

He added: “There is no reason for fear and that is what I’m trying to get across.”