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Snakes on the loose at Chinese university

By Katie Hunt, for CNN
December 11, 2012 -- Updated 0630 GMT (1430 HKT)
The snakes let loose on campus were later verified as non-venomous.
The snakes let loose on campus were later verified as non-venomous.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dozens of snakes let loose on Chinese university campus
  • Animal control experts capture 40 live snakes, 60 dead ones
  • Expert says snakes are not poisonous and suspects they were released deliberately

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Students at a university in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou were given a scare last week, after dozens of snakes invaded the campus.

The Guangzhou Daily reported Monday that animal control experts had caught around 40 live snakes on Saturday after a number of the reptiles were spotted writhing along a road in Guangzhou University City.

Around 60 snakes were also found dead, most squashed by traffic.

"On the way to the library I saw a green snake lying on the road in the sun, about 50 cm long," the newspaper quoted one student as writing on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter.

A student from South China Normal University, one of a number of institutions with colleges on the island campus, told her friends to be careful after finding about 60 snakes -- some run over by cars and other lurking in the grass.

Read: Snake on a plane forces emergency landing

An official at Sun Yat-Sen University contacted by CNN confirmed that snakes had been found but said they did not know any details.

Zhang Liang, from the South China Institute of Endangered Animals, identified the snakes as chequered keelbacks, a common species in the region, and said they were not poisonous.

"This kind of snake likes the sun. It's timid and will not hurt people," he said.

If they came across a snake, he said that students should call the city's wild animal protection bureau and not poke or try to catch it.

Zhang said he suspected that the snakes had been released deliberately. Most of the captured snakes had bite marks on their bodies, suggesting they had been kept in a confined space.

The snake invasion was not a signifier of an earthquake or other natural disaster, he cautioned, after students described the incident as an apocalyptic sign.

CNN's Zhang Dayu and Stephanie Ma in Beijing contributed to this report

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