Imagine you work at the international mail facility in Melbourne and you're told to inspect a suspicious package. With us, so far?
Now imagine that upon opening the package you discover that it contains thirteen live snakes; not one, not two, but thirteen live snakes. If you're anything like most people, there's a strong chance that at this point you'd throw the package into the air and run off crying like a seven-year old that's just lost their World Cup sticker album.
The snakes would go everywhere, and a pandemonium would ensue unlike anything the Melbourne international mail facility had ever witnessed before. It would be crazier than that incident in '62 when someone opened up a suspicious package and found a measly seven live snakes inside it. Don't google this, just take our word for it.
Suspicions were first aroused when the parcel, which had been labelled as "mixed powder", went through the scanner and showed a number of tightly-woven anomalies. Due to strict security guidelines, this resulted in the parcel being opened up and it was then that the animals were discovered.
A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture said it was not yet known what species the snakes were, but tests were being carried out to identify them. The snakes varied in size, with the largest measuring almost 60cm in length,
Because any live animal imported into Australia poses a risk to bio-security, all of the snakes had to be euthanised immediately. Nicola Hinder, the department's head of pathway compliance, had this to say:
"The snakes could potentially carry pests and diseases that could affect agricultural industries, health and the environment," Hinder continued by stating that the "...detection of concealed and illegally imported snakes, sent from Indonesia, is a clear attempt to get around the rules that are in place to protect us all."
Hinder went on to deliver this serious message to anyone who believes that sending live snakes in the post is a good idea:
"I want to warn those involved in this failed importation, or thinking about using the mail to bring in animals, that we aim to find you and hold you to account."
“I want to warn those involved in this failed importation...that we aim to find you..."
“It’s obvious anyone who claims to be an animal lover and conceals reptiles, or any other animal, in small packages and sends them through the mail does not have the best interests of the animals or Australia at heart," she added.
Australia receives an incredible 186 million international mail items each year, that are then screened according to regulations. Between 2013 and 2014, 260,000 items that were a concern to bio-security were confiscated from air passengers. These confiscations resulted in numerous fines that, when added all together, total $860,540.