A lounge of lizards and nest of snakes from Western Australia have been rescued after smugglers tried posting them to sell on the black market.
Department wildlife officers say 94 native reptiles, including a highly venomous death adder, were collected from across the state and stuffed into six parcels to be posted from Kalgoorlie to New South Wales last week.
"Posting animals in packages is not only illegal but cruel and inhumane," says wildlife officer Matt Swan.
Five of the critters died before being rescued, or just after.
Wildlife officer Christ Phillips holds up a black headed python and several Stimson pythons, seized by wildlife officers. Photos: AAP
The reptiles attract up to $150,000 on the black market.
Mr Swan says venomous snakes such as the mulga, whip and death adder as well as barking geckos, Stimson's pythons and bobtail lizards were among the 21 different species seized in the failed smuggling operation.
Wildlife officer Chris Phillips holds up several western netted dragons which were seized before they could be smuggled by post. Photo: AAP
Under the state's new Biodiversity Conservation Act introduced in 2016, the penalty for taking fauna can be up to $20,000 per species.
An investigation by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions is ongoing.