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Reptiles seized at customs

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-04-21 10:46

Fifteen live salamanders were recently intercepted at a Shanghai port, according to the Shanghai Railway Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau.

On March 4, officials detected the reptiles after the two postal parcels they came in underwent x-ray screening. The parcels were from Germany.

The brightly colored salamanders measured between 7 and 8 cm long and were of two species: the fire salamander and European salamander, both of which are unavailable in the domestic market.

Qiu Wenwei, head of the bureau's postal department, said the salamanders have poison glands on the back of its eyes and on both sides of its spinal cord which will excrete milk-like venom when the creature feels threatened. He added that the venom can cause blindness if it comes in contact with the eyes.

Officials immediately detained the parcel and contacted the recipient who said that the reptiles were sent by a German reptile enthusiast as part of an exchange agreement for Chinese species of the salamander. Qiu added that the recipient was also intending to breed these foreign species in China.

According to the country's regulations, live animals and plants must undergo a string of examinations and approval procedures before they are allowed into China. Mailing live animals is strictly prohibited. Qiu said the 15 salamanders were cremated.

The bureau noted that there has been a growing number of people in China receiving parcels containing foreign species of plants and animals in recent years. In 2015, it intercepted 35 batches of live animals spanning seven categories, including snakes, centipedes and spiders, at Shanghai's entry ports. The number of cases grew to 47 last year.

On Feb 21, live centipedes in a parcel from Thailand were detected and intercepted by the authorities.

The following day, six live ants were found in a parcel from Israel.

That was the first time live ants were discovered in postal parcels at ports in Shanghai.

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