Exotic animals found in VT steam tunnel
Virginia Tech police are looking for leads on a cache of exotic pets found today in a section of the university’s underground steam tunnel network.
The animals, which included two nonpoisonous, constrictor-like snakes, a black widow spider, a tarantula, two unidentified lizards, a frog, a rabbit, three mice and a cage of crickets, were found this morning by facilities workers doing routine maintenance near Saunders Hall.
Police don’t believe the animals were abandoned because they seemed to be in good condition, police Chief Wendell Flinchum said.
Acting Cpl. Katie Biniek and patrol officer Travis Stevens-White were called to Saunders Hall just after 11 a.m. and found the animals in a hodgepodge of cages and cardboard boxes. One of the snakes, which measured about five feet long, was found in a styrofoam cooler.
Biniek said animal calls are not uncommon at Tech, but most often are related to bats getting into buildings, or wild animals such as foxes. Recently police were called to a location in upper quad where someone had abandoned some caged chickens, she said.
On Thursday, detectives installed the reptiles and spiders in a room with a heater to keep them warm, while they searched for an agency or person to provide foster care for the animals.
Montgomery County Animal Control doesn’t deal with pets other than dogs.
The network of high-pressure steam tunnels that wind beneath the campus provides heating for campus buildings. They are off-limits to the public due to safety concerns, Flinchum said.
Students living on campus may keep fish in a 10-gallon aquarium, said Ken Belcher, of Tech’s housing and residence life office.
Possession of any other pets on campus by students is prohibited by university policy, as is entering the steam tunnels.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1675
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