James Hennessy, the director of the National Reptile Zoo in Ireland, has revealed that tourists in the UK unknowingly travel with wild animals in their luggage, from travel destinations including Kenya.
While making a TV appearance on Wednesday, Hennesy indicated that the animals range from snakes and scorpions to geckos and frogs.
In the latest incident, a woman inadvertently travelled with a venomous scorpion to her UK home where the animal spent nearly 12 days in her bedroom.
Whereas the bite from the wild animal was not deadly, it, however, possessed the power to cause breathing difficulties and severe pain. Patients may also experience swelling.
A scorpion photographed in Kenya.
“It’s not unusual – it’s not common, but it’s not unusual. It tends to be mostly geckos and we do get quite a few scorpions. Very occasionally some frogs and sometimes some snakes,” Hennessy told RTÉ, a UK media outlet, on travelling with the animals.
“Most of the stuff that we see that comes in, it’s been really badly dehydrated, it’s gotten into a bag, it’s been thrown about in luggage, it’s been up in the decompressed area in the aircraft.”
The animal stayed alive for that long because of the floor heating in the woman’s house before experts seized it for safekeeping at the venomous section of a nearby zoo.
The woman who travelled with the animal indicated that she unpacked her bags in her bedroom but did not notice the reptile.
“Two weeks later she moved the bag and discovered the scorpion hidden under the bag. Luckily the house the woman is living in has underfloor heating so the scorpion was nice and toasty warm on the floor,” Hennesy added.
“It probably would have survived pretty well in the house due to the underfloor heating. The only issue is the scorpion might have dried out since floors like that are very dry.”
Rules on Taking Animals to the UK
According to the UK Government, cats, dogs or ferrets can be ferried to Great Britain if they meet health and documentation requirements failure to which the pet can go into quarantine for 4 months.
Travellers from an EU country can take pet rodents, rabbits, invertebrates, amphibians or reptiles to Great Britain after securing a health certificate for them.
Those originating outside the EU country must be placed in quarantine for four months while a permit or certificate must be secured for endangered species. The category covers certain reptiles and birds, for example, tortoises and parrots.
A freight cargo plane getting loaded with cargo for exports