Tennessee Family Had No Idea This Was Living In Their Wall

Owning a home comes with its own set of challenges. Whenever something breaks down, you have to be the one to fix it. Either that or you have to be the one to pay somebody else to fix it. Every home has parts of it that need fixing or updating, but sometimes those little things turn out to be very big things. Sometimes they even turn out to be living things.

Keep reading to find out more about one man who took one brick out of his wall and discovered something he never expected.

What It Looked Like Before

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The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook

It was late September in Tennessee when the family who lives in this house started hearing strange noises coming from their walls. It sounded like scratching, like something— or someone— was moving inside their kitchen wall.

They decided that they needed to call in a pest control specialist. If there was some sort of animal in there, it might be stuck and need some help escaping. It was anyone’s guess what type of animal it would be, though.

Could It Be Mice?

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The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook

It’s not that uncommon for animals, especially small rodents like rats and squirrels, to make little homes inside of the walls of your house. When the weather gets cold, they look for places to make burrows for the winter.

The thing is, these noises had been going on for a while. It was September and it wasn’t cold yet. The noises weren’t going away, they were only getting louder and more intense.

Maybe It’s An Insect

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The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook

The family determined that the creature inside their walls must be some sort of insect because the noise wasn’t going away. Also, they were pretty sure that they could hear a faint buzzing noise.

They consulted the internet to figure out how to get rid of a bug infestation. The family ended up creating a DIY bug bomb, and they deployed it hoping that it would finally rid them of their problem.

Time To Call For Backup

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The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook

After they launched their DIY bug bomb, the sound still didn’t stop. Every time they were standing close to the wall, they could hear scratching and a faint humming. The homemade pesticides clearly weren’t working, so the family decided to call for backup.

Once they found out about pest expert David Glover, they knew that he was the man for the job. He had a proven track record of solving problems exactly like this one.

David Knows What’s Best

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The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook

David is a seasoned professional. He knew that he could handle whatever was in that wall. He suited up, prepared all of his fancy insect exterminating devices, and got right to work.

He was pretty sure that he had seen every kind of insect infestation there was to see and that nothing could shock him, but what he saw next was truly a first for him. He hadn’t seen anything quite like this before.

The Entry Point

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The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook

David started inspecting the outer wall of the kitchen. It was a brick wall that looked pretty solid, but he knew there had to be a hole somewhere. How else would an insect get in? Soon he discovered a “weep hole.”

You can see it in this photo— it’s the black line at the bottom of the photo near the center. He also found another small gap between the kitchen window and the brick.

Specialized Tools

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The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook

David has a lot of tools that he uses to help him do his job properly and efficiently. In order to find out how big this thing was that was lodged inside the wall, David used a tool called an infrared camera.

An infrared camera allows its user to visualize heat in a given space. David was absolutely stunned by what he saw. Whatever was in this wall had to be absolutely ginormous.

Smoke ‘Em Out

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Photo by Pierre WITT/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Photo by Pierre WITT/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

We’ve already talked about one of David’s tools— a very fancy, high tech infrared camera. The next tool David used was more old school. He decided to use smoke as he worked on removing whatever pests were inside that wall just in case they had nasty stingers.

He also used a bit of natural insect repellent just to be safe. You can never be too careful when you’re working with unknown pests inside of a wall.

Next Steps

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The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook

The insects were most likely momentarily stunned by the smoke, so David got to work widening the hole in the brick so he could get a better look at the inside of the wall.

As soon as he pulled the first brick off the wall, he knew what he was dealing with. David had actually suspected that this was probably the issue. All of his expertise and experience led him to the right answer.

What Seems To BEE The Problem?

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The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook

The creatures that had been making so much noise inside the wall were honeybees. A whole hive of honeybees to be exact. This might look like a small hive to you now, but David knew by the size of that comb that there was a whole lot more honey and a whole lot more bees behind those bricks.

David got ready for the most extensive pest removal job of his career.

So Many Bees

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The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook

David began removing layer after layer of brick. He was able to remove two whole rows in just a few minutes. With each brick he removed, he discovered more of the beehive. The problem was, this beehive seemed to be neverending.

At this point, David was wondering just how many more bricks he’d have to pry free before he could see the whole hive. Would there even be any wall left?

It Kept Going And Going

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The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook

David kept removing pieces of the wall brick by brick until he had removed five rows of brick. That’s when he realized just how big this beehive was.

Pretty soon, the entire hive was revealed. David was relieved that he had found the edges of the hive, but he knew he had a huge job to do. This was the biggest beehive he had ever encountered in a wall.

These Bees Were Busy

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The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook

The hive was absolutely massive. Its size dwarfed that of the kitchen window set above it. According to David, it was the single largest honeycomb he had ever seen! These bees were hard at work making honey and storing it away for future generations.

This family had been sharing their home with a whole bunch of tenants and they didn’t even know it. It’s about time for these bees to be evicted.

The Hive Was Growing

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The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook

When David took a closer look at the buzzing and bustling hive, he noticed that it contained thirteen capped queen cells, each with a separate virgin queen bee. It was clear to David that this hive wasn’t just incredibly active — it was thriving.

If this hive had been left alone for a few more weeks, it could have doubled in size. These bees had found a good home, and they wanted to fill it with more bees.

A Noble Sacrifice

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Photo Credit: Modern Farmer
Photo Credit: Modern Farmer

As David inspected the rest of the hive, he noticed a few dead bees clustered on the left side of the colony. When the family set off their DIY bug bomb, a few of the bees must have gotten caught in the crossfire.

The chemicals may have killed off a few worker drones, but there was no way that a little homemade bug bomb was going to kill off an entire swarm of bees.

The Responsible Thing To Do

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The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook

The bees were definitely doing damage to this family’s house, and David knew that they were making a lot of noise, but he didn’t want to exterminate the bees entirely. Around the world, there’s a huge problem with bee populations dying that are vital to the ecosystem.

These bees were thriving, and they should continue to thrive, just not in somebody’s house. David had a plan. He was going to relocate the bees to a more suitable home.

Intelligent Design

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Pinterest
Pinterest

After removing several chunks of honeycomb, David noticed that a large section was constructed as a convoluted mess of curves and tunnels. David described the strange combs as looking as if “the construction crew in this part of the hive was dropping acid.” How bizarre!

These bees weren’t like other bees. Perhaps researchers could study these curves and tunnels and learn more about what makes these bees tick. Why are they thriving when so many other bees are dying out?

These Bees Are Friendly

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The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook

You would think that a swarm of honeybees wouldn’t take too kindly to a man who is literally dismantling their home, but these bees were actually pretty chill.

The bees were oddly cooperative and some of them even sat on David’s shoulder as he worked. The ones who had just had their queen taken away were especially curious. They kept hovering around the bee box that their queen was in.

Clean Up Time

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The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook

Once the combs were removed, David began cleaning up his work area. As you can probably imagine, ripping open a brick wall to remove a few thousand honeybees creates a lot of mess. There was a big hole in the side of the house that now had to be fixed, but at least all of the bees were safely removed.

The family could rest easy knowing that there wouldn’t be anymore buzzing or scratching inside their wall.

Collecting The Stragglers

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The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook

While he was tidying up, David decided to place a box in the hole left in the house just in case any worker bees returned to the scene of the crime. They may have been off collecting pollen or they may have been frightened off by all of the commotion.

If the workers returned to the box, David could transport them to the new hive site.

A Lasting Impression

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The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook

After David finished cleaning, he noticed that the bees had left a lasting impression on the inside of this wall. All those little bees had left behind thousands of footprints. “Kind of cool when you think about all the times your Mom told you to wipe your feet before coming into the house,” David joked.

Now this family would always have something to remember the bees by— not that they’d ever forget.

On To The Next Location

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The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer / Facebook

David safely removed the hive. Now he just had to find a new, safe space for all of those bees. He decided to deliver the bees to a number of honey farms in the area. That way these bees could help out other bee colonies who have recently lost members.

These bees will help beekeepers in the area increase their honey production. They’ll also help pollinate a whole bunch of new flowers.

The Bee’s Knees

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Photo by Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert/picture alliance via Getty Images
Photo by Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert/picture alliance via Getty Images

Bees may get a bad rap. A lot of people are scared of them because they have a pretty powerful sting, but bees won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. They are an essential part of our planet’s ecosystem.

You really shouldn’t kill bees who make their way into your home. Just politely guide them to the exit (or call for professional help if they’re building a hive in your wall).

A Different Kind Of Pest

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Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP
Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP

When you think about the other creatures that could crawl (or slither) into your house, bees don’t seem so bad. One family in Thailand wished that they just had a bee problem to deal with when they discovered a group of deadly reptiles living in their home.

Keep reading to find out which reptile gave them the fright of their life. I bet you wouldn’t want one of these in your house.

A Sneaky Snake

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Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP
Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP

Snakes are much smaller than humans and humans generally do more damage to snakes than snakes do to humans. Still, snakes have a bad reputation. Maybe it’s because of that whole story with Adam and Eve.

While snakes aren’t inherently evil, they look pretty scary when you encounter one in the wild. Some snakes can be venomous, so you want to stay far away from these reptiles unless you’re a trained professional.

Meet Vern Lovic

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Thailand Living / YouTube
Thailand Living / YouTube

One man who isn’t afraid of these slithery animals is Vern Lovic. He’s a snake expert and self-proclaimed snake enthusiast. He’s handled all types of slithery serpents over the years. He’s encountered small, harmless snakes as well as big, venomous ones.

If you have a snake situation, Vern is definitely the guy you want to call. He has lots of experience moving snakes out of places where they aren’t wanted.

A Different Kind Of Problem

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Thailand Living / YouTube
Thailand Living / YouTube

Just like David, Vern is the very best at what he does. He’s had years of experience handling these potentially dangerous animals. When Vern’s friend called him one day to investigate a snake problem at his home in Thailand, he jumped at the chance to help.

However, as soon as Vern arrived, he realized things were much worse than he anticipated. He jumped into action as quickly as he could.

Tools Of The Trade

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Thailand Living / YouTube
Thailand Living / YouTube

Vern’s tools aren’t quite as fancy as David’s. He didn’t have an infrared camera or a smoke gun. He was armed with a clear bag made of reinforced plastic and long metal tongs so he could safely grab and store the snakes without fear of them biting him or escaping.

Still, he had no idea what he was in for when he first entered the house. Things were about to get pretty crazy.

Know Where To Look

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Thailand Living / YouTube
Thailand Living / YouTube

Vern checked every corner in the house. Snakes have a way of burrowing into hard-to-reach places. Vern usually finds snakes in small, dark places like corners, vents, shoes, and drawers. Vern used all of his expertise and snake-finding senses to locate this intruder. Luckily, Vern had experienced serious infestations before, so he knew exactly where to look.

After searching the entryway for some time, Vern made his way into his friend’s bathroom.

Always Check The Bathroom

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Thailand Living / YouTube
Thailand Living / YouTube

Vern started his search in the bathroom. He knew snakes often hide inside toilet bowls, and you definitely don’t want to sit down on a toilet with a snake in it. As soon as he opened the bathroom door, he saw his worst nightmare slithering up the wall in the back corner.

At least the snake wasn’t in the toilet, although it may have been easier if it was.

Not Just One Snake

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Thailand Living / YouTube
Thailand Living / YouTube

Vern saw a baby cobra slithering up the bathroom wall. This is bad for two reasons. Firstly, one baby cobra means many baby cobras. Secondly, these were monocled baby cobras which are the most venomous snakes in Thailand.

Just one bite could result in a quick and painful death. Vern trapped one snake and carefully carried it out of the bathroom. He knew his work had just begun.

A Bag Of Snakes

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Thailand Living / YouTube
Thailand Living / YouTube

Even though Thailand has only about a dozen reported deaths from snake bites every year, people should still avoid them at all costs. Not all snakes are venomous, but it’s often hard to tell the difference between venomous snakes and harmless ones.

Vern was able to trap a few more cobras in his clear plastic bag, but his work wasn’t finished yet. If you’re afraid of snakes, the next few photos might terrify you.

How Many?!

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Thailand Living / YouTube
Thailand Living / YouTube

Vern ended up finding almost a dozen snakes in the bathroom! And that was just in the bathroom! He hadn’t even searched the rest of the house yet. After he was certain that there were no more snakes in the bathroom, he moved on to the next room.

He was hoping that he’d be able to fit all of the snakes in this house in his clear plastic bag.

The Hunt Continues

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Thailand Living / YouTube
Thailand Living / YouTube

Vern entered the next room slowly so he didn’t alarm the snakes and scare them away. He carefully made his way past the furniture, making sure to check every nook and cranny. He knew snakes had a way of getting into places you might not expect.

He moved furniture around and inspected the entire room for more baby cobras. These snakes are excellent hiders, and Vern had to be smart if he was going to find them.

Neverending Snakes

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Thailand Living / YouTube
Thailand Living / YouTube

Sure enough, Vern found several more baby cobras hiding behind some glass bottles on the floor, and there were even some more inside a few empty tin cans that were strewn on the ground. They were everywhere!

It seemed like these cobras were multiplying. Vern wasn’t sure how much longer this mission was going to take. It seemed like it was taking forever and more snakes just kept popping up.

Searching High And Low

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Thailand Living / YouTube
Thailand Living / YouTube

The room was long, and after Vern made sure he snatched all of the cobras from the front end, he gradually made his way to the back half. With every step he took, he had no idea what he was going to encounter. Every snake he found was a surprise and he had to approach each one with extreme care.

One wrong move and he could get seriously injured.

A Thorough Search

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Thailand Living / YouTube
Thailand Living / YouTube

Sure enough, there were still several more baby cobras hiding out in the back. Some of them were wrapped around pipes while others were hiding out inside small garbage cans. Vern was incredibly thorough with his search.

He wasn’t going to leave this house until he was sure that there were no more baby cobras hiding in tight spaces. Any cobra left behind could pose a serious risk to his friend.

Don’t Let The Bed Snakes Bite

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Thailand Living / YouTube
Thailand Living / YouTube

The next place Vern needed to check was his friend’s bedroom. Since his friend spent many hours per night asleep here, it was vital that the cobras were removed. His friend would be powerless against the venomous cobras while he was asleep.

When he swung the door open, all seemed to be okay at first, but then he stepped closer to the bed at the center of the room…

Disaster Averted

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Thailand Living / YouTube
Thailand Living / YouTube

Vern pulled back the bedspread and what he found completely shocked him. There were a few snakes just hanging out under the covers. Now this is a nightmare if I ever saw one.

The snakes tried to quickly slither back under the covers. Vern instructed his friend to stay at a hotel until he could be sure they were all taken away. You definitely don’t want to be sleeping with cobras.

It’s Not Over Yet

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Thailand Living / YouTube
Thailand Living / YouTube

As Vern was leaving the bedroom, he spotted one more baby monocled cobra trying to escape underneath the bottom of the door. Luckily, he spotted its tail, and he safely collected it in his bag with the rest of its brothers and sisters.

These snakes were no match for Vern. Luckily, they were baby snakes, so Vern was able to maneuver them quite easily. He just picked the snake up with his tongs and placed it in the bag.

A Pile Of Snakes

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Thailand Living / YouTube
Thailand Living / YouTube

Vern couldn’t believe his eyes—there was yet another pile of frantic snakes in the corner just outside the entrance to the bathroom. The number of snakes in this house was staggering. It was truly one of the worst infestations he had ever seen. At this point, Vern had collected over twenty snakes.

He was starting to wonder how all of these snakes got into the house in the first place.

On To The Living Room

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Thailand Living / YouTube
Thailand Living / YouTube

After he secured the snakes in his bag, it was time for the next location: the living room shelving unit. There were plenty of small spaces for the venomous snakes to hide out, and Vern needed to be extra careful with this task.

He was almost certain that he would find a number of snakes in this room. He was prepared to collect at least 20 more in this house.

Strategic Searching

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Thailand Living / YouTube
Thailand Living / YouTube

The very first thing Vern did was knock over the tall pair of boots. He knew snakes liked to camp out in small dark places, and sure enough, several baby cobras came slithering out. How many more snakes was he going to find?

He was starting to think that he was going to need a bigger bag. There were just too many snakes in this house for him to handle.

The Grand Total

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Arterra/UIG via Getty Images
Arterra/UIG via Getty Images

In total, Vern found 56 monocled cobras hiding inside his friend’s house. You can see the full video of Vern searching his friend’s house for snakes on the YouTube channel Thailand Living.

Just be thankful that you don’t live in Thailand and you don’t even have to worry about 56 snakes invading your home and sleeping in your bed. There are snakes in some parts of America, but at least we aren’t overrun with them.

A Dreadful Stench Leads Authorities To A Home In Madagascar

A House In The Neighborhood Was Raising Concerns
Facebook/DREEF ATSIMO ANDREFANA
Facebook/DREEF ATSIMO ANDREFANA

At first, neighbors were frustrated and disturbed by the smell that was flowing from the two-story house in Toliara, a coastal town in Madagascar. Unlike other homes on the street, this one was not occupied by a family. A few of the neighbors approached the house, but no one appeared to be home.

The problem didn’t go away, on its own. In fact, it only got worse. The horrid stench was intensifying and neighbors were baffled by what could be inside the house.

The Smell Was Unbearable

The Smell Was Unbearable
Michel RENAUDEAU/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Michel RENAUDEAU/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The neighbors couldn’t tolerate the stench any longer. Nor did anyone want to go inspect the smell, as it could likely be tied to a dangerous situation. For the stench to be strong enough to carry throughout the neighborhood, there must be something seriously wrong going on inside.

The smell never died down, and it was clear that no one was living in the house full-time. This was a mystery the neighbors were ready to put an end to.

Neighbors Reported It To Authorities, Who Were Called To The Scene

Neighbors Reported It To Authorities, Who Were Called To The Scene
Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Several reports concerning the house were brought to the attention of police in Toliara, a town in southwestern Madagascar. The country was facing hard economic times and authorities had no shortage of issues to deal with. However, they did not expect to be faced with such a strange problem of this magnitude when they arrived at the Toliara house.

Luckily, the authorities came prepared, as they had backup from both the police and the local environmental agency. Neighbors look on as the event unfolded.

All Of The Agencies Organized

All Of The Agencies Organized
Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Thankfully, the police and other agencies took the neighbor’s calls seriously. They too were concerned about the smell, which could likely be tied to a crime or other serious issue.

The Toliara police organized a joint investigation with the regional environmental protection agency and several other authorities joined the group in case they needed back-up. No one knew what to expect walking into the foul-smelling house. As they later found out, it was a good thing they were all there.

Experiencing The Horrid Stench Firsthand

Experiencing The Horrid Stench Firsthand
Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Soary Randrianjafzanaka, head of the region’s environmental protection agency could not believe what she smelled and then witnessed when she arrived at the house to begin the investigation.

Just as the neighbors had described, the stench was unbearable, yet not distinct enough to pinpoint based solely on the foul odor. It was quickly clear both why the neighbors wanted the stench gone and why they were afraid to approach the house.

Finally, Someone Was Attending To The Problem

Finally, Someone Was Attending To The Problem
Jean-Noel DE SOYE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Jean-Noel DE SOYE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The neighbors were relieved that someone had actually shown up to help resolve the horrible problem that they’ve been dealing with for such a long time. Imagine living next to a house that completed wreaked, but you couldn’t do anything about it.

Once they arrived, the authorities knew that the situation was serious. Once they got inside though, they had never seen anything like what they saw that day inside the stinky Madagascar house.

The Agency Had Never Seen Anything Like It

The Agency Had Never Seen Anything Like It
Facebook/DREEF ATSIMO ANDREFANA
Facebook/DREEF ATSIMO ANDREFANA

Walking into the house for the first time, Soary could hardly put the experience into words. She told National Geographic, “You cannot imagine. It was so awful.”

The smell turned out to be the urine and feces of 9,888 live radiated tortoises, along with 180 tortoises that were dead among them. These weren’t any ordinary tortoises though, which immediately raised a flag as to why there were so many of them cramped inside the house.

10,000 Tortoises!

10,000 Tortoises
Facebook/DREEF ATSIMO ANDREFANA
Facebook/DREEF ATSIMO ANDREFANA

If you’ve had any type of pet inside your home, you know that the smell can quickly increase if you don’t take care of that pet’s cage or terrarium. Now imagine that times 10,000! Plus, these tortoises were not being taken care of.

They were sadly living among their feces and other dying tortoises. The stench and the scene were terrible. Authorities knew that they needed to act quickly to save the tortoises.

The Tortoises Were Packed Wall-To-Wall

The Tortoises Were Packed Wall-To-Wall
Facebook/DREEF ATSIMO ANDREFANA
Facebook/DREEF ATSIMO ANDREFANA

Soary reported that there were tortoises packed wall-to-wall throughout the two-story house. She said, “They had tortoises in the bathroom, in the kitchen, everywhere in the house.”

Malnourished and carelessly packed into the home, it’s no wonder that nearly 10,000 tortoises caused the house to expel such a dreadful stench. Soary and her team of colleagues knew that they had to act quickly to deliver the rare tortoises to safety.

Radiated Tortoises Are Critically Endangered

Radiated Tortoises Are Critically Endangered
Facebook/DREEF ATSIMO ANDREFANA
Facebook/DREEF ATSIMO ANDREFANA

Radiated tortoises are native to southern Madagascar, where they have the biggest populations. They rarely appear outside of this region and have become classified as a critically endangered species, by the IUCN.

The population of radiated tortoises is shrinking due to loss of habitat and sometimes poached for food. However, one of the species’ biggest threats remains to be the pet trade, as people capture them in the wild and sell them off.

Critically Endangered Tortoises

Critically Endangered Tortoises
You Should Know/YouTube
You Should Know/YouTube

As if the situation weren’t bad enough, with so many tortoises in need of help, but these were also critically endangered tortoises, which made the situation even more urgent. With only around 3 million radiated tortoises left in the entire world, here were 10,000 that were in seirous need of help.

The authorities had never seen a tortoise smuggling operation this big before. This bust was massive and would mean a great deal for the radiated tortoise population.

It’s Illegal To Capture Them

It's Illegal To Capture Them
Kike Calvo/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Kike Calvo/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

As part of their listing as a critically endangered species, the radiated tortoise is listed on CITES Appendix I, which bans catching and the commercial trade of the species.

Although it’s illegal, the laws don’t stop everyone in Madagascar from wild capturing and trading. As the economy struggles, some citizens have become desperate to make money and see the pet trade as an opportunity. It isn’t out of the ordinary for laws to be ignored in the region.

The Smugglers Were Desperate

The Smugglers Were Desperate
MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP via Getty Images
MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP via Getty Images

This particular radiated tortoise operation was on an extremely large scale. There weren’t just a few criminals involved in the smuggling, as there is usually a poacher who removes the animal from their habitat, and another who then travels with the animal before putting them into the pet trade.

This operation clearly involved lots of people, as the number of tortoises they had taken and plan to put into the pet trade was enormous.

The Tortoises Were In Every Room

The Tortoises Were In Every Room
Facebook/DREEF ATSIMO ANDREFANA
Facebook/DREEF ATSIMO ANDREFANA

The smugglers didn’t attempt to separate or care for the tortoises whatsoever. As Soary and the police attempted to make their way around the house, they found that every room was just as bad as the last.

These tortoises were absolutely packed into the house, wall-to-wall in each room. They were in sinks, tubs, over here, over there, just everywhere. It was an unbelievable sight. Now, they had to figure out what to do about it.

Rescuers Started Counting…

Rescuers Started Counting...
Facebook/DREEF ATSIMO ANDREFANA
Facebook/DREEF ATSIMO ANDREFANA

As Soary and her colleagues began collecting the turtles and loading them into the six trucks they drove to the home, they began counting the tortoises. They couldn’t believe how many they found.

Nearly 10,000 radiated tortoises were found throughout the home, far more than any the agency had ever come across. In a large-size bust, a typical smuggler is usually caught with between 100 and 200 tortoises. This seizure was beyond anything they had ever imagined.

Thankfully, They Had The Help They Needed

Thankfully They Had The Help They Needed
Alexis Rosenfeld/Getty Images
Alexis Rosenfeld/Getty Images

It was a big job, but luckily, Soary had enough people and trucks to get it done. All day and night, the team worked to safely get the tortoises out of the disgusting house and pack them into six trucks. The trucks would go back and forth from the wildlife rescue facility all night long, picking up and dropping off the tortoises.

The neighbors were no doubt surprised to see just what was happening in that thouse the entire time!

They Were Brought Back To Health

They Were Brought Back To Health
Insights/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Insights/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Against all odds, Soary was happy to report that the tortoises that they saved were doing well. Although likely overwhelmed by the number of animals brought in that night, the workers at the Le Village Des Tortues had good news to report.

The wildlife rehabilitation facility translates to “Turtle Village” in French. With their specialized knowledge, the staff was able to care for the critically endangered species, which included hydrating them and feeding them leaves, fruits, and the favorite food of the species, Opuntia cactus.

Many Of The Tortoises Would Make A Full Recovery

Many Of The Tortoises Would Make A Full Recovery
MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP via Getty Images
MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP via Getty Images

Despite the horrendous conditions that the radiated tortoises had been living in for who knows how long, many of them were making an impressive recovery now that they were in the care of the wildlife rescue.

The criminal act of housing these tortoises the way they did is absolutely inhumane. The smugglers not only illegally removed thousands of critically endangered tortoises from their natural habitat, but they hid them in a way that put them at great risk.

Then, They Lost Some

Then, They Lost Some
Insights/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Insights/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Unfortunately, after the 9,882 tortoises had been in the care of Le Village Des Tortues for a week, some did not make it through. The wildlife rehabilitation facility regretfully reported they had lost 574 of the radiated tortoises due to dehydrated or infection.

Their hard work did pay off however, as the rest were saved and still contributed a great deal to the endangered radiated turtle population. Instead of being sold in pet trade, they would be protected.

Impressive Work By The Le Village Des Tortues

Impressive Work By The Le Village Des Tortues
You Should Know/YouTube
You Should Know/YouTube

It’s quite impressive that the wildlife rescue facility, Le Village Des Tortues, were able to take on so many animals at once. This is no doubt the biggest influx of tortoises that have ever arrived at one time at the facility.

They did an incredible job to help bring the tortoises back to health on such notice. Although it was bad people who caused the problem in the first place, it’s reassuring to know that there are other who are always wanting to step up and do the right thing.

Authorities Went To Work On Leads For Who Was Responsible

Authorities Went To Work On Leads For Who Was Responsible
Facebook/DREEF ATSIMO ANDREFANA
Facebook/DREEF ATSIMO ANDREFANA

For months, the house appeared abandoned while the stench intensified in the neighborhood. Then, neighbors reported seeing people coming and going. Either the house wasn’t abandoned after all, or transients had begun squatting in the house and possibly engaging in illegal activity.

As it turned out, it was the latter. Authorities arrested the owners of the home: two men and a woman. In fact, Soary’s team had a run-in with the two men.

Smugglers Were There When Authorities Arrived

Smugglers Were There When Authorities Arrived
MAMYRAEL/AFP via Getty Images
MAMYRAEL/AFP via Getty Images

The Madagascar police and environmental agency arrived at the house to investigate the smell, not knowing what they would find. Not only did they find the source of the stench, but they also caught two of the men who were responsible for the crime.

As Soary and her team stepped into the house, two men were in the backyard, burying the tortoises that they could no longer sell in the pet trade.

The Tortoises Can Weigh Up To 35 Pounds

The Tortoises Can Weigh Up To 35 Pounds
Insights/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Insights/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The thousands of radiated tortoises that were found in the house varied in size: small, medium and large. Rick Hudson, president of Turtle Survival Alliance estimated that the large radiated tortoises can weigh around 35 pounds, with shells as wide as 16 inches across.

The larger tortoises would be much harder for the smugglers to conceal as they attempted to bring them out of the country. However, their sloppy operation was what got them caught in the first place.

It Was A Big Smuggling Operation With A Big Boss

It Was A Big Smuggling Operation With A Big Boss
You Should Know/YouTube
You Should Know/YouTube

Although their careless decision to house 10,000 illegally caught radiated tortoises in one home was what ended up getting the criminals busted, Soary explained that this wasn’t a small operation– there had to be many individuals involved to be able to collect nearly 10,000 radiated tortoises.

She told National Geographic, “We don’t know exactly who the big person is, but we know there’s a big boss.” Radiated tortoise smugglings typically happen at borders and airports, but this case was different.

A Treaty Signed By 182 Countries Bans The Trade

A Treaty Signed By 182 Countries Bans The Trade
You Should Know/YouTube
You Should Know/YouTube

The severity of the crime cannot be emphasized enough, especially for how large of a scale this radiated tortoise smuggling operation was. The treaty banning the removal of radiated tortoises from the forests of Madagascar is signed by 182 different countries, as well as the European Union.

Yet, the crime continues. Starting with the poachers who remove the tortoises from their native habitat, they are then often taken to Southeast Asia or China, where another party will sell them as pets.

The Tortoises Are Quickly Losing Their Habitat

The Tortoises Are Quickly Losing Their Habitat
Insights/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Insights/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

One of the major threats to the radiated tortoise species is their disappearing habitat. This is mostly due to deforestation as the land is developed for agricultural use. The forests of Madagascar are being destroyed at an alarming rate. In the last 60 years, a shocking 44% of Madagascar’s natural forests have disappeared according to data from Global Forest Watch.

Among other affected species, the radiated tortoise population dropped from 12 million in the 1990s to six million in 2013. Today, there are estimated to only be around three million radiated tortoises alive. Luckily, these smuggled tortoises were saved.

Radiated Tortoises Have Beautiful Shells

Radiated Tortoises Have Beautiful Shells
You Should Know/YouTube
You Should Know/YouTube

One of the reasons these tortoises are so sought-after is their beautiful and unique shells. The radiated tortoise has the typical body shape of other tortoise species, with a high-domed shell and elephantine feet. However, it’s the shell that sets this tortoise apart from the rest.

Its shell design includes yellow lines, defining dark plates that feature patterns that are far more detailed and intricate than most tortoises. If they have a safe habitat they can live to be around 190 years and grow to 35 pounds, larger than some other tortoise species.

They Don’t Make Good Pets

They Don't Make Good Pets
MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP via Getty Images
MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP via Getty Images

Radiated tortoises have incredible longevity. One radiated tortoise was recorded as living for 188 years. Who could possibly take care of a pet with that lifespan? No one, obviously.

It’s terrible that these animals continue to be captured in their natural habitat and sold to the pet trade, as they are much better off living their life in the forest. Hopefully, the human population can do a better job at protecting their habitat, too.

Radiated Tortoise Smugglers Were Also Arrested In Thailand

Radiated Tortoise Smugglers Were Also Arrested In Thailand
You Should Know/YouTube
You Should Know/YouTube

Not surprisingly, the people who illegally bred and sold the radiated tortoises in Madagascar weren’t the first to commit this crime. In March 2013, smugglers were caught at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Thailand.

The smugglers had a bag of 21 radiated tortoises and 54 angonoka tortoises, trying to get them past security to sell them as pets somewhere else. Luckily, the smugglers were caught and the tortoises were saved.

Tortoises Taken From Madagascar Were Seized In Mumbai

Tortoises Taken From Madagascar Were Seized In Mumbai
RIJASOLO/AFP via Getty Images
RIJASOLO/AFP via Getty Images

In another incident, customs officials seized 146 tortoises at the Mumbai airport on March 20, 2016. The tortoises were kept inside a suitcase, which was “left behind” at the airport by someone who had flown in from Madagascar.

A Nepal citizen then picked up the suitcase and tried to get it through customs, where he was caught. Of the 146 tortoises found in the baggage, 139 were radiated tortoises and the others, angonoka.