Over 70 snakes — mostly deadly Russell’s vipers and cobras — illegally kept for extracting venom, have been seized from a residential apartment in Pune where a man was living with his wife and children.

Ranjit Kharage (37) was arrested along with his alleged accomplice Dhananjay Belkute (30), police said on Tuesday. The seizure was made on Monday from the rented apartment of Ranjit in the outskirts of Chakan.

“When we went there, Kharage was not at home. We recovered 41 Russell’s vipers and 31 cobras from one of the rooms in the flat and investigations have revealed that the duo allegedly extracted venom from these reptiles and used to sell or smuggle it,” a police inspector from Chakan Police station said. A case was registered against the duo under relevant sections of Wildlife Protection Act, he added.

The apartment was raided after police received a tip-off on Sunday. “The snakes were kept in wooden boxes and gunny bags in the flat and even children knew about it. The duo used to get snakes from jungles and snake catchers,” the officer said.

The snakes would be handed over to forest officials, police added.