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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 May, 2004, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
Box of snakes 'linked to death'
Green mamba
The green mamba can kill in 30 minutes
Police believe the death of a man whose body was found in a rental car at an American airport may be linked to a box of venomous snakes.

Computer programmer Garrick Wales, 48, from Kilmacolm in Inverclyde, Scotland, was discovered near Little Rock National Airport in Arkansas on 13 May.

A box containing four African snakes was found in a box more than half a mile away the following day.

Police would not say why they believed there was a link with the snakes.

Detectives have not yet released the results of a post mortem examination and have not said whether Mr Wales, who was in Little Rock on business, died of snake bites.

Forest cobra

The four African snakes, which were in bags inside a box, were found by a local electrician near a motorway.

The 14in twig snake, 6ft green mamba, 4ft black mamba and 5ft forest cobra could all be deadly.

The box was said to be marked with warnings of its contents.

Map showing Little Rock
Mr Wales' body was found near Little Rock National Airport
The snakes were taken to a local zoo, where staff said police had told them they were investigating a link between the reptiles and an unusual death.

The black mamba feeds on small mammals and birds, which it strikes and then stalks until paralysis kicks in.

It can grow to up to 14ft in length and travel at speeds of almost 12mph.

The snake is actually a brownish-grey colour and takes its name from the purple-black lining of its mouth.

The green mamba is another fast-moving snake, which grows to about 5ft in length.

It lives in trees across Africa, and is often difficult to see in green foliage. It feeds on birds and lizards and its venom can kill in only 30 minutes.

Rear-fanged snake

The forest cobra is a large, thick-bodied, black snake from the rain forests Africa.

Its bite can cause early paralysis and ventilatory failure, and can kill without quick intervention.

The twig snake comes from the family of rear-fanged snakes.

It has enlarged rear teeth with a groove to allow venom to flow down while swallowing their prey.

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