It was a reptile parade last week, as the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Nassau County District Attorney’s Office cleared a Carle Place home of almost 100 animals, some of which were illegal or endangered.
Police say Christopher Koening kept more than 80 exotic animals, including more than 10 that were dead, in cages, tanks and plastic containers throughout his 11th Street home.
Police arrested the 20-year-old for one count of aggravated cruelty to animals and one count of failure to give food and drink.
Among the animals found were 11 live snakes, 20 turtles, a tarantula and a baby alligator. Five fish tanks were also filled with multiple lake fish such as bass and bluegill.
The biggest animals found were snakes, which included a Burmese python and constrictor, which Gary Rogers with the SPCA said was “not venomous, but could seriously hurt a child.”
Possession of several of the animals is illegal in New York state and the Town of North Hempstead, said Rogers. But Rogers noted the bigger offense was that they were not being properly taken care of.
“All these animals are dirty, that was our main concern,” said Rogers. “Besides being illegal, that’s secondary to the condition they’re being kept in.”
All the snakes were covered in mites, which suck their blood. The deceased animals, which included a snake, turtle and an iguana, were skinny and underfed.
“The animals that died were in pretty bad shape. A happy, fat animal doesn’t just die,” said
Michael K. Ralbovsky of Rainforest Reptile Shows/RRS Oasis, a nonprofit sanctuary and educational center in Massachusetts where the animals were relocated. “Some of the animals were in good shape, but most will need rehabilitation and veterinary care.”
One rabbit, a cat and three dogs at the home were also turned over to family members of Koening.
A neighbor said he was not aware of the amount of animals in the home, but described Koening as someone who loved animals.
“He’s very friendly. He’s shown my kids animals and ever since we’ve known him, he’s always been involved with animals and taking care of them,” he said.
Koening was released on an appearance ticket returnable on June 27 to First District Court in Hempstead.