Police officers in Portsmouth, Va., called to an abandoned home to recover a stray dog found dozens more animals inside -- and none of them were the usual house pets.
Twenty-three turtles of various sizes, a 4-foot-long canebrake rattlesnake, an eel, a shovelnose catfish and a lovebird were found trolling broken fish tanks, dresser drawers and other parts of the home, local TV station WTKR reported. Two more turtles, each weighing about 50 pounds, were found in discarded bathtubs in the home's backyard.
Five turtles and three snakes were found dead, and all the animals were thought to have been abandoned for at least three months.
Authorities called in local reptile rescue group VIIPER -- Virginians Interested in Protecting Every Reptile -- to recover the exotic animals and take them to animal shelters.
"I've never seen a case of abandonment like this -- ever," Eric Crabtree of VIIPER told WTKR.
Talking to local ABC affiliate WVEC, Crabtree added: "The whole house reeked of decay. It was filthy. It was just horrible living conditions because nothing had been cleaned or fed."
Edith Sessoms, a neighbor of the abandoned home, told WVEC that a man, a woman and a boy had been tenants there. According to data from listings site Trulia, the home was sold on Aug. 28 for $35,000.
"We had been smelling a bad odor [coming from the house], but we thought maybe they go fishing a lot," Sessoms said.
"They really needed masks on in there, to tell you the truth, because the smell was so bad," she continued, referring to the workers who recovered the animals. "One of the workers that was bringing his stuff out did throw up."
Police are still looking for the owners of the animals, and the Portsmouth Humane Society is now looking for homes for the turtles that were rescued.
It seems that cases of exotic animals living in homes aren't too few and far between. Earlier this month, police discovered 13 exotic animals -- including a tarantula, two alligators and five pythons -- living inside a Brooklyn apartment in New York City. But even stranger things have been found inside homes, such as the cremated remains of 56 people and $7 million in gold.
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