A highly lethal nine-inch snake found in a box of tiles in Co Kerry is being kept at a secret location in Tralee until a decision on its future is made.

The horn-nosed viper, which is highly poisonous, was found in a box of house tiles imported from Greece.

The discovery was made by workers at a building site in Ballyduff in Co Cork as they were about to lay tiles in a new house.

The snake, whose venom can kill within two hours, was curled up in the box and although they didn't realise it was poisonous they had the presence of mind to move it to an empty box and call the local branch of SPCA, according to Chief Inspector Harry McDaid.

The snake will be kept undercover until it is moved to Dublin later in the week where it is to be examined by a team at Dublin Zoo.

Mr McDaid said that in his 25 years with the SPCA, this was the first horn nosed viper he had ever seen and it gave them all 'the shock of the century'.