Neglect alleged at snake-breeding business

Lake Elsinore officials say as many as 700 dead rats found at business, no word how many live snakes on premises

POSTED: 07:11 AM PST Dec 17, 2012    UPDATED: 10:05 AM PST Dec 17, 2012 

Lake Elsinore city officials cannot estimate how many live snakes and rats were found at a snake breeding facility where as many as 700 dead rats were reportedly found last week, an official said Sunday.

The rats were being bred as food for snakes at Global Captive Breeders, 530 Third St., when city code enforcement officers went there Wednesday. The city inspection was prompted by complaints from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and an anonymous resident who alleged neglect, city spokesman Justin Carlson told City News Service.

Carlson said an estimated 700 snake and rat carcasses were found at Global Captive Breeders, along with a number of live animals that he could not quantify.

"There was an odor," he said. But no charges or formal complaints have been filed by the municipality pending further investigation.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise first reported the incident. The company's phone has been disconnected and no owner or operator could be found Sunday.

The newspaper reported that up to 10,000 rats were at the snake-breeding business, but Carlson said today there is no known tally for either the rats or snakes. City workers would attempt to take a census next week, he said, and every animal will be cataloged.

Carlson told CNS experts will if any of the reptiles or rodents can be treated if they are found to be ill.

The business may have started operating in Lake Elsinore in 2009, the city official said.

The county's Hazardous Materials team went to the business on Saturday following a report about an ill Global Captive Breeder employee. But it turned out the employee was experiencing flu symptoms and that her illness had nothing to do with where she worked, Carlson said.

Haz Mat officials cleared the site for volunteers and employees of Global Captive Breeders to enter, Carlson said. The woman was sent to a doctor as a precautionary measure, he added.