- Reptile Conservation Resources, Inc

Snakes alive! Garden gnomes take to smuggling

Tue Jun 19, 6:24 AM ET

The garden gnomes looked innocent when they turned up in the mail, but Australia’s notoriously tough customs officers gave them a good going over — and found they were full of live snakes and lizards.

A total of seven snakes and eight lizards were found in the hollow areas beneath the typically pudgy and cheerful exteriors of three ceramic gnomes and in several pottery figurines sent from Britain, officials said Tuesday.

The packages had been declared as gifts and were destined for two addresses in Sydney, which were raided by customs officers.

Investigations are continuing, the Customs Service said, adding that the maximum penalty for smuggling wildlife is 10 years in jail.

“Such criminal action is a cruel practice which frequently results in the deaths of animals in transit,” said investigations manager Richard Janeczko.

He said the reptiles had been put down because of concerns that they could spread disease.

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