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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 June 2007, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
Garden gnomes hid smuggled snakes
A garden gnome with a snake inside
Customs officials said the snakes had to be put down
Australian customs officials have found live reptiles hidden in the hollowed insides of ceramic garden gnomes sent as gifts from England.

A total of seven snakes and eight lizards were found inside three of the pottery figurines.

The snakes, destined for two addresses in Sydney, were found when the parcels were opened by customs officials.

The two addresses where the gnomes were heading have been raided but no arrests have been made.

"When the package was opened, the officer spotted several snakes moving about. The package was immediately resealed," Australian customs said in a statement.

Due to quarantine regulations, all the reptiles were put down.

A special licence is needed to bring live reptiles into Australia.

People found guilty of smuggling wildlife into the country face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of 110,000 Australian dollars ($92,700; 46,700).

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