Puff adder (Bitis arietans) isolated on white background
Puff adder (Bitis arietans) isolated on white background

The 16 highly poisonous snakes were found at the house, in Gray Street, Liversedge after police were tipped off that the resident had a king cobra without the proper paperwork.

Police searched the house with wildlife officer Bryan Butterworth, an animal health inspector from Kirklees Council and a DefRA wildlife inspector from Heathrow Airport.

They did not find the reported snake, but did discover a snouted cobra, a rhino viper, a British adder, four deinagkistrodons and nine puff adders. The venom from some of these snakes is enough to kill a person.

A police spokesman said: “To possess these snakes the keeper must possess a licence issued under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. This keeper did not possess any licences. The wildlife inspector also said they were been kept in totally unsuitable conditions.”

Police also seized a Mississippi alligator skull and a Nile alligator skull which are believed to have been brought into the country illegally.

A Kirklees Council spokesman said the snakes were now with an expert who could provide them with suitable care.

A man is being quizzed by police.

A bite from a snouted cobra can lead to paralysis and death and one from the Rhinoceros viper can cause massive swelling leading to decaying flesh.

The British Adder’s bite causes swelling and can lead to incontinence, fever and blindness – in severe cases it can cause heart failure.

The venom of the deinagkistrodon causes severe pain, swelling, blistering, decaying flesh, ulceration and possibly heart palpitations, while the puff adder is responsible for more fatalities than any other African snake.

Its bite causes bleeding, swelling, severe pain and tenderness as well as decaying flesh. If not treated properly it can result in gangrene.

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 says people need a licence to keep certain exotic pets so they do not create a risk to the public.