51 poisonous snakes found in bite victim’s Tokyo condo

by Reiji Yoshida

A Tokyo man was arrested Wednesday after police found as many as 51 poisonous snakes, including cobras with extremely powerful venom, in his condominium near JR Harajuku Station in Shibuya Ward.

The alleged violation of the Law Concerning the Protection and Control of Animals came to light when the suspect called an ambulance July 15 after one of his snakes, a mamba, bit him on the finger.

The man, identified as Nobukazu Kashiwagi, 41, was rushed to a hospital in critical condition. Police said they waited until the port worker recovered before arresting him.

The 185-cm-long snake that bit him was an eastern green mamba. According to Michihisa Toriba, director of the Japan Snake Institute of Gunma Prefecture, that species has one of the most powerful venoms in the world.

“It’s a kind of cobra. This snake usually lives in African savannas, often in trees,” Toriba said.

Snake enthusiasts usually keep nonpoisonous snakes, Toriba said, adding he has no idea why Kashiwagi kept so many poisonous snakes in his home.

Kashiwagi hasn’t told the police the reason he kept the snakes, a Metropolitan Police Department spokesman said.

Kashiwagi’s condo is located in the Jingumae district.

He kept the snakes in plastic boxes.