POLICE have received a complaint about an animal welfare charity’s handling of what was mistakenly thought to be one of the world’s deadliest snakes.
The suspected green mamba was found on a cargo ship from west Africa which docked in Aberdeen in November and a police escort was needed when Scottish SPCA officers were called to remove it.
The charity could not keep the animal at its Aberdeenshire centre due to “severe health and safety concerns”, with the closest anti-venom stored in Bedford.
The snake was placed in a freezer, where it died after unsuccessful attempts to find it a home with specialist reptile keepers.
It has now been identified as a harmless green tree snake and the animal welfare charity say this was an “honest mistake”.
Police Scotland confirmed they had received a complaint which was under consideration.
Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “We were called out after a green snake arrived in Aberdeen on a boat from Africa.
“The snake was thought to be a green mamba, one of the deadliest snakes in the world. The snake was taken by police escort to our Aberdeenshire animal rescue and rehoming centre.
“Sadly, the snake, which staff genuinely believed to be a green mamba, had to be put to sleep after our attempts to re-home it to specialist reptile keepers were unsuccessful.”
He added: “We could not keep the snake in our centre due to severe health and safety concerns, as the closest anti-venom is held in Bedford.
“Green mambas also require a dangerous wild animal licence, which the society does not have.
“The safety of our staff and the public is paramount, and as such the snake was placed in a freezer where it passed away.
“Recent guidance issued in the past month on euthanising animals suggests that placing a reptile in a freezer is not the preferred method.
“However, in this instance freezing was considered the only safe option as any other method would have posed a significant risk to our staff.
“The decision to euthanise the snake was not taken lightly. Unfortunately, the snake has since been identified as a harmless green tree snake.
“This has been an honest mistake on the society’s part as we genuinely believed this was an extremely deadly snake.”
The green mamba is usually found in Africa rainforests and feeds on small birds, rats, frogs and lizards, but some species are kept at homes in the UK under dangerous wild animal licences.
Experts say its bite can be fatal in as little as 30 minutes.