Essex Police said the reptiles included cobras, copperheads, pythons and a Madagascar giant hognose.Seven of the snakes died and had been left to decompose, with the survivors taken into the care of the RSPCA.During police interview Thompson claimed the animals were his pets and he had no intention of selling them but he admitted neglecting them.An Essex Police spokesman said: “Thompson kept wild animals in appalling conditions, ultimately causing 17 to die.”Not only did he keep them without a licence but showed no care for their well-being or their survival.”Thompson, of King Edward Road, Laindon, Essex, was jailed for four months and was fined £115 in his absence. He was arrested at an address in Napier Close, Basildon and on the same day officers found a menagerie of exotic animals at a house he rented in Burdett Avenue in Westcliff.The 4ft caiman was found at the property, along with 23 snakes and fat-tailed scorpion had no food, water or heat source and the snakes were in poorly-ventilated plastic boxes. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Lee ThompsonCredit:Essex Live/BPM Media A man who let a 4ft crocodile roam roam around the bedroom of a rented house in Essex has been jailed for a string of animal offences. Lee Thompson, 36, who is known as “Snake” because of a tattoo on his neck which includes the word “snake”, also kept 23 snakes in “appalling” conditions as well a host of other exotic animals. He was convicted at Basildon Magistrates’ Court in August of two counts of breaching a ban on keeping a dangerous wild animal, two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and two counts of keeping a dangerous wild animal without a licence.Police arrested him in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, on September 11 and he was sentenced at Basildon Crown Court last Wednesday, Essex Police said.The force said Thompson had been on their radar since 2015 when they found 45 exotic animals, including spiders, a lizard and a snapping turtle, at a unit he rented in Basildon.Some of the animals, which had been left without water, food and heat, died, and the survivors were taken into the care of the RSPCA and specially trained handlers.Efforts to find Thompson, who was not at the unit at the time, were unsuccessful and he remained on the run until January 2018.