Twist in the tale over Leeds family’s snake discovery saga

3 August 2017......   Rebecca West with son Oscar, 17 months, whose rented property on Stanley Road in Harehills is infested by snakes. The home is being ripped apart to find the reptiles but the council, housing association and the RSPCA are unable to offer assistance. Picture Tony Johnson.
3 August 2017...... Rebecca West with son Oscar, 17 months, whose rented property on Stanley Road in Harehills is infested by snakes. The home is being ripped apart to find the reptiles but the council, housing association and the RSPCA are unable to offer assistance. Picture Tony Johnson.
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The story of the Leeds family who discovered a family of snakes in their rented house took a surprising twist today after a previous tenant revealed he had left snake skins around the property before moving out.

The ex-tenant contacted the YEP after we described the experience of Rebecca West and partner Daniel Bodally, who found what they believe to be a family of uninvited guests under the floorboards of their property in Harehills.

100 per cent they can’t have bred and the atmosphere was not correct. They would have had to be together to breed.

An ex-tenant at the property, who kept two snakes before moving out

The couple told of finding snake skins in the property after moving in before looking beneath the floor to find infant snakes and a nest under the bath.

Snakes alive! Leeds family terrorised by nest of slippery reptiles under the floorboards

They have contacted Leeds City Council’s pest control department, as well as the RSPCA, but neither could help because it is a private property and they are not willing to go into the floor cavities.

The council has now passed on details of a local group who could help remove the snakes from the house.

After being contacted by the YEP, the landlord, Hunslet-based Family Estates, has now agreed to move the couple and their children to a property in Belle Isle.

The former tenant, who did not want to be named, said he was dubious about the suggestion that snakes had been discovered, although he kept two at the property as recently as last year.

He lived at the property for a year-and-a-half with his wife and two children, before moving out last December.

He said he owns two California kingsnakes, one male and one female, which grow to four or five feet long, but that he kept them in separate, locked vivariums so there is no way they could have mated.

“It says the snakes have been left there and have bred. My snakes are male and female but for them to breed they would have to be incubated. They would have to lay an egg and be at a certain temperature.

“That property has been vacant since December so any life form that is supposed to be there would have to be dead. A snake can’t breed in that atmosphere.

“100 per cent they can’t have bred and the atmosphere was not correct. They would have had to be together to breed.”

He said he had left snake skins around the property because of an old wives’ tale that the oil and resins they contain would deter mice and rats, who would think there was a predator in the building.

He said: “It is a common way to get rid of mice and rats to leave snake skins about. The mice think there is a predator about.”

He suggested that if snakes were in the flat, it could be because they had got in from an adjoining property.

He said: “If there are snakes in there it is a concern for me because I was there for a year-and-a-half, so that would be really concerning for myself.”

Miss West, 23, said she had received a number of offers of help since the YEP published a story, but had a sleepless night worrying about the intruders in her house.

She said: “We have seen the snakes ourselves, we have had our friends come round and get them out. One even bit my partner.”

She added: “We found two snake skins under the bath and then two in the cupboard and they arrived at separate times.

“The landlord cleaned the house out before we moved in, so they would have seen them if they were there.”

The family moved into the house in May but only saw the first shedded snake skins on Monday. Miss West thinks they are either corn snakes, a North American species of rat snake that subdues its small prey by constriction, or a variety of king or milk snake.

A Leeds city council spokesperson said: “While the council isn’t able to directly assist in this instance we have been able to pass on the detail of some organisations which may be able to help Miss West and her landlord deal with the problem.

“We’d advise anyone keeping pets of this nature to ensure they’re kept safely and securely.”

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