News story

Weird and wonderful finds by UK Border Agency

Working at all UK ports, airports, harbours, marinas and private airfields, UK Border Agency officials regularly come across efforts to bring animals into the country illegally. Read on for the top ten weirdest finds. .

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

1. Snakes on a plane: UK Border Agency officials stopped a passenger travelling through Heathrow as he tried to bring his pet Boa Constrictor snake into the UK by wrapping it around his leg.

2. Pet hate: when a striped animal skin was found in a man’s luggage, officials suspected it was an endangered species. Tests identified it as the skin of a large domestic dog, which had been painted to look like a tiger skin

3. Under a vest: a passenger at Heathrow tried to smuggle 40 rare and endangered parrot eggs, including those of the highly rare Blue Headed Macaw, by hiding them in a specially made vest worn under his shirt. Border officials put the eggs into an incubator, the majority of the parrots hatched and were re-homed in zoos around the UK

4. Pipe dreams: 26 rare birds of prey were stuffed into plastic pipes for a thwarted smuggling attempt from Thailand.

5. Poisonous delivery: a parcel coming from Tanzania attracted UK Border Agency officials’ suspicions - an x-ray revealed two highly venomous snakes, a puff adder and a gaboon viper packed inside.

6. Mean medicine: a sniffer dog at Heathrow alerted officers to a passenger arriving from Shanghai. He was found to be carrying 42 dried seahorses to be ground up and used as Chinese traditional medicine.

7. 8,000-legged suprise: a British man attempted to smuggle 1,000 spiders individually boxed live into his suitcase. The spiders, which included several venomous species such as tarantulas, had been checked in as baggage.

8. Holiday horror: a British couple returning from their Corfu holiday tried to smuggle seven wild tortoises home. They cruelly resorted to taping one of the animals up to stop it from moving.

9. Video nasty: UK Border Agency officers at Gatwick Airport discovered three rare Copes Alligator lizards smuggled inside a video tape. The lizards were later safely re-homed.

  1. Pigeon mystery: UK Border Agency officers foiled an attempt to smuggle a mysterious brief case full of dead pigeons into the UK. Some of the birds, which were found at Gatwick airport, had all of their feathers removed, leading officials to suspect they may have been headed for British restaurants.
Published 2 September 2010