PORTSMOUTH - Two dozen turtles and a venomous snake were among the animals removed from a vacant Portsmouth home Thursday.
Animal Control was called about a stray dog on Hobson Street in the Truxton neighborhood. As officers searched the area around 35 Hobson Street, they found 2 turtles (one, weighing about 50 pounds, the other about 35) in bathtubs filled with murky water in the back of the home.
Upon further investigation, officers located a 4-foot long Canebrake Rattlesnake that was in a broken fish tank inside the home. They also found 23 other turtles throughout the home, including in a dresser drawer.
An eel, shovelnose catfish and a small parrot, commonly known as a “love bird” were also found alive --some need more medical care than others.
"Three of the snakes were dead. The whole house reeked of decay. It was filthy," said Eric Crabtree who is with VIIPER (Virginians Interested in Protecting Every Reptile) reptile rescue.
"It was just horrid living conditions, 'cause nothing had been cleaned or fed."
Crabtree is caring for the rattlesnake for the time being along with dozens of turtles.
The 2 large turtles went to the Portsmouth Humane Society before being transferred to a wildlife rescue group.
"They really needed masks on in there, tell you truth, 'cause the smell was so bad," neighbor Edith Sessoms told 13News. "One of the workers that was bringing his stuff out did throw up."
Sessoms and others on Hobson Street said a man, woman, and a boy lived in the house as tenants.
According to real estate data, the home sold on August 28 for $35,000.
"We had been smelling a bad odor any way, but we thought maybe they go fishing a lot," said Sessoms.
"This is not indicative of most, majority of exotic animal owners," offered Crabtree. "This is just a bad situation of neglect and abandonment."