One of the vinegaroons being housed at the Victoria Bug Zoo after a raid in a Surrey home. (Photo: Screengrab from Victoria Bug Zoo Facebook video)

VIDEO: Man charged after scorpions, spiders and more seized from B.C. home

Victoria Bug Zoo to begin adopting out some of the critters Sept. 4

B.C.’s Conservation Officer Service says a man is facing charges under the Wildlife Act following the seizure of hundreds, if not thousands, of exotic animals from a rental home in Surrey Aug. 8.

Maple Ridge veterinarian Dr. Adrian Walton told the Now-Leader he was called to the home by Surrey’s bylaw department after someone saw a “bunch of reptiles out on a deck.”

Walton said after arriving at the home, he quickly realized there was a lot more to the story.

“While we were doing the investigation, you took one quick look in the window and you were seeing this entire room of deli cups full of bugs, basically. Mostly spiders, but you could see some scorpions,” said Walton, who is head veterinarian at Dewdney Animal Hospital, which has experience caring for exotic creatures, albeit not this many.

Walton estimated there were thousands of creatures in the Surrey home.

SEE ALSO: Woman finds scorpion in kitchen, drives it to B.C. animal hospital

Because of the condition of the animals, Walton said B.C. Conservation Officer Service got a warrant that was executed around 11 p.m. that evening.

Many animals were in “poor condition,” he said, adding that some containers housing them didn’t have air holes.

“From the bugs perspective, most of the animals were tarantulas and scorpions and these are venomous. Under Surrey bylaws, they’re not legal, so Surrey can’t adopt them out. You’re stuck in a situation of what do you do with these animals? Many were not identifiable, because they were babies. Some animals in there that were highly venomous, that no group is going to adopt out due to liability issues, my understanding is that the decision were made that those animals were not adoptable so they were destroyed.”

While the Maple Ridge clinic cared for many of the animals and insects, many have since been transported to the Victoria Bug Zoo. Others were taken to the Surrey Animal Resource Centre.

Walton said it was “pretty obvious” this was a wholesale situation and that the animals were either arriving or being prepared for shipment.

“This is a situation we deal with in the pet trade – the international and even national transport of animals. What we know from various studies is the mortality rate is approximately 70 per cent,” he told the Now-Leader. “We have serious concerns about the ethics of that. So to see such a large volume of animals, many of which were not in the best of condition, it’s very upsetting to someone who actually sees these animals as incredibly unique creatures. I’m supportive of the people, the local breeders, who raise these animals because they have a love…. You shouldn’t be buying online, you shouldn’t be buying from pet stores, you should be finding local qualified breeders and getting your exotic pets that way. “

As passionate as he is, Walton laughed as he said walking into a home with thousands of spiders at 11 o’clock at night “isn’t exactly my idea of fun.”

“I just went to pick up a couple of turtles, and was hoping to be home for dinner,” he chuckled. “All the weird stuff, somehow Dewdney gets involved.”

READ ALSO: Scorpion gives birth after hitching ride in B.C. woman’s luggage

READ MORE: Dinner plate-sized tarantula crawls out of its own skin at Victoria Butterfly Gardens

In an emailed statement, B.C.’s conservation service said a man who is known to them is facing “multiple charges” under the Wildlife Act in connection to case.

The statement noted was in “unlawful possession of live Schedule A wildlife, namely various turtle species” and that a search warrant was executed. The statement adds that the City of Surrey seized hundreds of spiders, scorpions and centipedes, seeing as they were illegal to possess under the municipal bylaw.

The man’s name has not been released.

While officials wouldn’t pinpoint an exact address of the home, they told the Now-Leader it was in north-east Surrey.

“It is unlawful to possess live wildlife without a permit,” the statement from the conservation service notes, “and hobbyists should check all federal, provincial and municipal regulations prior to purchasing or housing any reptile or amphibian species to ensure they are in compliance with all applicable legislation.”

In a Facebook post, the Victoria Bug Zoo wrote that it plans to begin adopting out the vinegaroons in its care on Sept. 4, for a fee of $40.

“We will adopt out a maximum of two to each person – however, this species is solitary and each should be kept alone in its own enclosure,” reads a post from Victoria Bug Zoo. “Some may be pregnant, we respectfully ask that any vinegaroons that lay eggs be temporarily returned to the zoo so we can care for the babies.”

“To everyone who has already expressed Interest in adopting one of our little friends here, thank you so much for your kindness, and thank you to Dewdney Animal Hospital Ltd. and Adrian for helping us get the word out!”

An earlier Victoria Bug Zoo post noted they had about 15 vinegaroons in their care, which were all in “extremely rough shape when they arrived.”

“It is incredibly sad when animals must pay the price for the poor decisions of humans,” that post reads. “There are, unfortunately, unscrupulous people in the exotic pet trade, and this is why it is important to know who you are supporting when you make a purchase. Research your provider, always choose captive bred where possible, and don’t buy from people who sell illegal or unhealthy animals.”

In a Facebook video, a staff member at Victoria Bug Zoo explains vinegaroons are arachnids, “fairly closely related to spiders and scorpions.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19 brings burning ban to Clearwater and area

The reason for the ban is to help reduce excess air pollution in populated air-sheds

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Kamloops-Thompson teachers to connect with parents to reveal plans for remote teaching

School district also asking parents to ensure children are practicing social distancing

Interior Health issues alert following confirmed COVID-19 case on WestJet flight

The public exposure alert comes following the March 21 WestJet flight from Calgary to Kamloops

Clearwater COVID-19 precautions update

Local groups and facilities taking measures to keep the public safe

Trudeau announces 75% wage subsidy for small businesses amid COVID-19

This is up from the previously announced 10 per cent wage subsidy

World update, 9:30 p.m. March 27: Positive news in Korea as U.S. hits 100,000 cases

The United States now has the most coronavirus cases of any country in the world

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

67 more B.C. COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Vancouver region

Positive tests found in Surrey, Langley long-term care facilities

‘Now is not the time to bag that peak’: BCSAR manager discourages risky outdoor adventures

Call volumes are not going down, even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists

Food Banks BC already seeing surge in demand due to COVID-19 pandemic

Executive director Laura Lansink said they expect applications will keep increasing

Nanaimo couple caught aboard cruise ship with four dead and COVID-19 present

Four ‘older guests’ have died on Holland America’s Zaandam; cruise line confirms two COVID-19 cases

Frontline workers receiving COVID-19 isolation exemptions prompt concerns

Provincial Health Authority staff exempt from self-isolation upon return from international travel

Most Read