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More Than 100 Reptiles, Many Illegal To Own, Found In Carle Place Home

CARLE PLACE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- More than 100 reptiles were found hopping, crawling and slithering around a house in Nassau County Monday.

As CBS2's Brian Conybeare reported, many of the animals are banned in New York state and are considered extremely dangerous.

The block of 11th Street in Carle Place where the discovery happened is quiet outside. But inside one house, investigators said they found the assortment of reptiles – many of which the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals noted are illegal to own.

The SPCA on Monday afternoon brought out a baby alligator that had its mouth taped shut as a precaution. There were also dozens of turtles in the basement in what investigators called "horrendous conditions."

"They're in pretty bad shape," Michael Ralbovsky from RSS Oasis Animal Sanctuary said.

So bad, in fact, that at least ten of the more than 100 reptiles found were dead including two snakes, an iguana and a lizard known as a blue tongued skink.

"There was stench from decomposing animals plus he had reptiles that aren't allowed even in the United States," Nassau County SPCA's Gary Rogers told WCBS 880's Sophia Hall.

Police did take one resident into custody Monday afternoon. Christopher Koenig, 20, was led out of the house in handcuffs and charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and failure to give food and drink, Nassau County police said.

"If you're not taking care of them and you're abusing them, then why would you have a hundred of them? It doesn't make sense," Ralbovsky said.

Some of his turtles were found swimming in an inflatable backyard pool. Some very large snakes were also found, including a potentially deadly boa constrictor which wrapped itself around an investigator's arm Monday and started squeezing, showing just how dangerous they can be.

The town of North Hempstead does not allow snakes as pets in residential areas, including the neighborhood full of kids.

"It could hurt one of these small children. It could kill a pet. You're not supposed to have this," said Nassau County SPCA Detective Gary Rogers. "That's why the state has ruled that these animals aren't allowed in New York state."

Along with all the reptiles, authorities also found three dogs, a cat, a rabbit and several fish including two striped bass and two bluegills which are illegal to keep.

"We knew they had a couple dogs but that's it," neighbor Trudy Mammina said, adding the family simply loves animals.

"I wouldn't for a minute think that any one of them were abused, I think they would have been taken care of properly just knowing the family," she tells CBS2.

Investigators say they only discovered the reptiles when the family reported a break-in at the house over the weekend. The creatures are now being treated at an animal sanctuary in Massachusetts.

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