Austrian Officials Find Snakes, Scorpions And Over 80 Other Reptiles In Man’s Luggage

(Photo by Omar Torres/AFP via Getty Images)

Kate Hirzel Contributor
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Austrian officials reportedly discovered 85 geckos, two snakes and two scorpions Tuesday in a passenger’s luggage arriving from Ethiopia.

A 50-year-old Czech citizen was apprehended by officers on suspicion of criminal smuggling, according to Germany-based outlet Deutsche Welle (DW). Authorities noted the animals were in a distressed condition, showing clear signs of dehydration.

The suspect initially exited the baggage area designated for passengers with nothing to declare. However, authorities were already aware of the passenger due to a risk assessment and detained him, according to DW. They discovered the reptiles in three concealed transport boxes and their estimated value was $51,000, the outlet reported. (RELATED: Video Shows Multiple American Tourists Fighting Off Feisty Kangaroo At Australian Sanctuary)

The suspect allegedly claimed he intended to use the geckos as food for his snakes. Geckos can fetch prices ranging from €250 ($272) to €600 ($654) in the reptile market, while the snakes and scorpions discovered were valued at around €250 each, according to DW.

Following the incident, the animals were taken by Schönbrunn Zoo in Austria. A dedicated team of experts has been attending to the various species of geckos, snakes and scorpions found, DW reported. All the animals have recovered and are in much better condition, according to the outlet. 

Reptile smugglers usually try to find new species, and some can be sold for up to thousands of dollars, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

“The problem became huge over the last two or three decades. With technology and globalization, nature became available and accessible, and the Internet helps traders to get organized, to get in touch,” co-founder of Pro Wildlife, Sandra Altherr, told the magazine.