Toddler Found in Cage Surrounded by Large Snakes During Tennessee Home Raid

A child less than two years old was found inside a dog cage near large snakes at a home during a mass animal rescue operation in Henry County, Tennessee.

The cage was sitting in the same room as several constricting snakes next to a box of live mice. The child, who was reported to be filthy but unharmed, is now in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Children's Services.

Deputies removed more than 600 animals from the home near Dale Cemetery Road in the Buchanan community. The animals included 56 dogs, 86 chickens, 10 rabbits, eight snakes, four parakeets, three cats, three sugar gliders, one pheasant, one gecko as well as 531 mice, rats and hamsters, the Henry County Sheriff's Office confirmed in a statement.

"Further investigation revealed the child was being kept in the cage in extremely close proximity to snakes, rats and mice. The surrounding floor and cage itself was covered in dog feces, urine and roaches," the statement said.

The sheriff's office also confirmed 127 marijuana plants and 17 guns were found during the raid. The child's parents and a grandparent—Charles Brown, Jeff Brown and Heather Scarbrough—were taken into custody.

"All three suspects are currently in the Henry County jail under a $300,000 bond and are facing charges of aggravated child abuse, aggravated animal cruelty, animal cruelty, manufacturing marijuana, possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia," the statement confirmed.

"Jeff Brown also faces a charge of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm," the statement said.

District Attorney General Matt Stowe, who serves Henry County and the counties of Benton, Carroll, Decatur and Hardin, told Nashville's NewsChannel 5: "I want to reassure the public that law enforcement is working very diligently right now to investigate this case, and to make sure no further tragedy occurs.

"In our community children are treasured. They're treasured very highly and the slightest allegation that one may be in danger causes a large number of people to spring into action. We're going to investigate this and every allegation of child abuse extremely closely," he added.

Newsweek has contacted the District Attorney General's Office for comment.

Last October, 87 pets (including 85 cats, a dog and the remains of one cat) were removed from a house in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, after the animals were reportedly living in deplorable conditions, according to the Brandywine Valley chapter of Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which was involved in the rescue operation.

Back in 2018, around 27 cats were saved from a home in Naches, Washington. The cats had been left to fend for themselves after their elderly owner suffered a health emergency. The home had become so uninhabitable that rescuers had to wear hazardous materials (HAZMAT) suits to enter the property.

Last July, a newborn baby was found dead inside a trash can in the bathroom of an Applebee's restaurant in Texas. And last May, a newborn baby boy was found abandoned in a garbage can in Chicago. The child, who was believed to be just hours old, had his umbilical still attached when he was discovered wrapped in a towel in a shopping bag.

The article has been updated with comment from the Henry County Sheriff's Office.

Memphis Zoo in Tennessee September 2019
A Louisiana pine snake in an enclosure at the Memphis Zoo in Tennessee, pictured on September 30, 2019. Getty Images