Wildlife experts set traps, use technology to catch deadly snake - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Wildlife experts set traps, use technology to catch deadly snake

MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) -

Still no sign of the venomous snake since its molted skin was found last Wednesday.

"I went through all my books and stuff and said yes, that's definitely a Gaboon Viper,” says Raymond Covington, the owner of Nuisance, Wildlife Removal Service.

Covington was at the Harbor Point apartment complex Tuesday. While digging through bushes and leaves is a must, he says they are also working with Animal Rescue and Relief, an organization that uses thermal or heat imaging technology.

"They'll actually see where heat is and go to it and be in that heat source so that they can stay warm because they're not cold-climate animals, and they can't produce their own heat,” explains Michelle Reid with Animal Rescue and Relief. “So, this way we can find pockets of heat and see where he actually is."

The team returned Tuesday evening to set-up cameras and double traps with rats in them. Experts say after a snake goes through its monthly shedding, it's ready to eat.

"They tend to be searching for food, tend to be more aggressive so we're hoping that he hasn't gotten a meal yet," says Reid.

It's still not clear if the snake was a pet or if it came in on a ship. While some jurisdictions have ordinances against exotic animals, there is no state law regarding them.

"Any kind of exotic animal can be sold, any kind of venomous snake,” says Reid. “There's no permitting system, so nobody knows. You don't know what you're neighbor has. So, I wasn't surprised, but it's scary."

Reid says the bite of the Gaboon causes death in 15 minutes. The closest anti-venom source specifically for the viper is in Columbia, at the Riverbanks Zoo.

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