Glasgow & West Scotland

Animal ban for snake owner Steven Riddell over live bait treatment

A man has been banned from keeping animals over the appalling treatment of mice, rats and rabbits which he intended to feed to his pet snakes.

Steven Riddell, 43, was found with 130 small animals stored in cages in a greenhouse at his home in Erskine, Renfrewshire, in April last year.

Paisley Sheriff Court heard many were dead or dying, starving, dehydrated and stuck in their own faeces.

Riddell admitted breaching the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act.

Sheriff Colin Pettigrew told him he was satisfied in all of the circumstances that a disqualification order should be made to prevent him from owning, keeping or dealing in any animals, apart from the household dog.

'An affront'

He also ordered him to dispose of all of the remaining 37 snakes he has and to return to court next month for sentencing.

The sheriff added: "You should be aware that custody is a competent disposal here.

"Quite frankly, this was an affront to any notion of animal welfare."

The court heard that Scottish SPCA inspectors raided Riddell's home following a tip-off.

Inside the greenhouse, under a tarpaulin, they found the animals stored in cages in stifling conditions with little or no ventilation or natural light.

One of the inspectors could only remain inside for a brief moment as she had difficulty breathing in the oxygen-starved interior which stank of stale ammonia from droppings and urine.

One cage, which weighed 2kg (4lb) when clean and empty, was caked with a solid mass of droppings mixed with bedding that weighed almost 14kg (31lb).

Atrocious conditions

The only trace of drinking water found was coated in green algae.

Some of the rats and mice were found to have bite and scratch marks and others had parts of their tails missing.

Many had respiratory problems and some were poking their noses out of gaps as they desperately tried to gasp fresh air.

A senior SSPCA inspector later said that in all of her many years or service, she had never seen animals being kept in such atrocious conditions.

She said she had felt disgusted to think that Riddell "saw them as nothing more than a cheap food source for his reptiles", which appeared to be well cared for inside his house.

The court heard that following the discovery, Riddell had agreed to hand over ownership of all the small animals to the Scottish SPCA.

Many were put down, although some were nursed back to health and re-homed.

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