Town Tells Man 400 Critters Is Too Many Reptiles For One House

Curling up with your favorite pet boa constrictor is one (albeit, potentially illegal) thing, but hanging out with over 400 snakes and other reptiles just isn’t acceptable in one Minnesota town. Not to mention all the insects and rodents required to feed such a menagerie. Talk about creepy crawly. Shudder.

The city of Coon Rapids is telling its citizen to downsize, as he has over 400 snakes, geckos and lizards in his home, reports WCCO 4 News.

“You mention snake and 95 percent of people go ewww, snakes. I can understand that,” said the man, who breeds snakes. He began with a hobby 15 years ago, and turned that pet predilection into a business.

The city attorney says the critters raise the issue of livability in the home.

“It could pose a risk for public safety if there is an emergency,” he said. They want him to have fewer animals, and he shouldn’t own certain species of boa and python whatsoever.

“I have snakes that are favorites, that I handle two three times a week,” said the snakes’ owner. “It would be devastating [to lose them].” In addition, it’s his day job that he says is a drain on his life, and not his pets.

“That job brings home the paycheck and it basically sucks the life out of me. So coming home and playing with the reptiles gives me meaning to life.”

Coon Rapids Tells Man He Has Too Many Snakes [WCCO-4]


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  1. Karney says:

    Sounds like a typical episode of ‘Confessions: Animal Hoarders’.

    • rushevents says:

      I agree. 400? Our zoo doesn’t have that many animals in its herpetarium. (aka the “Snake house”)

  2. DrPizza says:

    What’s next? “You have too many aquariums with fish in them.”

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Except that the fish will just die if they’re out of water. If the snakes and other reptiles get out, they could just head for the woods and disrupt the ecosystem. Or they could get into other people’s homes. No one is saying he can’t have any reptiles; but 400 is too many.

      • mszabo says:

        He’s from Minnesota all Boas and Pythons would be dead come fall. Can’t really teach a tropical snake to hibernate. Now if he were in Florida this would have been a much bigger issue.

      • bluline says:

        So how many is “just right”? If 400 is too many, is 300 okay? If not 300, how abut 200?

        Unless there is a specific law that puts a numerical limit on the number of animals a person may possess, I think the guy is right to stand his ground.

      • longdvsn says:

        This isn’t Miami…the snakes wouldn’t survive the next winter (or hell, the first fall cold-front) if they escaped.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      It’s a fire hazard.

      • iesika says:

        This is probably true, since he’s almost certainly got at least a hundred heat lamps running in the house with that many reptiles.

        • Cor Aquilonis says:

          I was making a sardonic reply to the “too many aquariums” comment. Too many aquariums, fire hazard; I’m here all week, ladies and gentlemen.

          Also, it looks like he primarily uses racks, so he’s probably using heat tape or whole room heat. When properly wired, it shouldn’t be a problem; and it doesn’t seem that the city has a problem with his electrical, just the number of snakes.

          But I agree, IF he was using hundreds of bulbs for heat, it would probably be a fire hazard.

    • Costner says:

      Most cities have limits on the number of animals a person can have. I’ve often heard of limits that say you can have no more than six or so domesticated animals in your home, and wild animals are almost always banned. Some cities allow for a few chickens etc, but livestock is generally banned from city limits.

      So if it is ok to tell someone they can’t have more than six dogs or cats (or a combination of the two) why should someone be allowed to have hundreds and hundreds of reptiles? The reality is although most of them are likely harmless, I’m sure he has a few that could be a danger to EMTs or Firemen in an emergency. Also it is likely if those snakes got out, they could create all types of problems for neighbors as they crawl into their homes, cars, and other warm areas. Imagine learning your basement has become a breeding ground for snakes all because your neighbor left a cage open one weekend.

      The chances of their being a problem go up exponentially the more animals he has, so it stands to reason in a residential area that they be limited. If we operates this as a business, find an area zoned commericial / retail and then follow all of the laws that surround pet stores.

      • DrPizza says:

        It’s “there” not “their.” An increase in the number of snakes does not increase the risk of an escape “exponentially.” Your entire reply is based on your own fantasy, emotions, and irrational fears rather than a sound analysis. “I’m sure he has a few that could be a danger to EMTs or Firemen in an emergency.” Why are you sure? “Imagine learning your basement has become a breeding ground for snakes all because your neighbor left a cage open one weekend.” So, snakes like warm places, yet are going to go to what is typically the coolest part of a house in Minnesota to breed?

  3. Firevine says:

    “The city of Coon Rapids”

    An entire racist town even. Sheesh.

    I would hate to see this guys power bill. Mine is way too high, and I only have three reptiles.

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      I imagine in Minnesota he hardly gets to turn off the heating pads. Or would it just be cheaper to heat the entire house for that many animals?

      • gellfex says:

        Each cage needs it’s own temp gradient so the reptile can find it’s comfy place. Got 2 going and that’s 200w on 12 hrs/day. Adds up. They probably got onto him through his electric bill thinking he was growing weed!

        • The Porkchop Express says:

          Didn’t even think of the gradient, only had one or two reptiles going at a time so under the tank heat pad was easy.

      • Auron says:

        Actually we’ve been having very unseasonably warm weather up here in the frozen tundra. The past week or so highs have been in the 60s/70s with lows in the 50s. That weather is typically found in mid-late April/May.

  4. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:
  5. Cor Aquilonis says:

    Whatever, it’s not that difficult to keep up 400 snakes. With sweater box rack systems, they won’t take up much space, and since he breeds, I bet a lot of them are tiny, little neonates. I mean, look at his facility, it’s nice, clean, and organized.

    I’m surprised that the city’s complaining. I bet the wouldn’t get on the case of a bibliophile who has just as many racks of books (and they’re extra flammable!) Public safety, please. It’s just because they think snakes are icky.

    • Jane_Gage says:

      Are the snakes really happy living in what amounts to the size equivalent of three shoeboxes?

      • Cor Aquilonis says:

        Snakes aren’t mentally equipped to process “happy”, but if they have the proper heat gradients, water, food, and hide boxes, they tend to be incredibly sedentary. Remember, for most snakes (especially pythons) in the wild only move about to eat, drink, find shelter, and mate.

        It really depends on the species, but pythons and boas tend to stay vary still and wait for prey to amble by, so they don’t need a ton of space. (There are exceptions.) On the other hand, garter and ribbon snakes and racers are very high energy and will patrol territories. So, a one-and-a-half foot rangy high-activity garter snake could conceivably need a great deal more space and cage furniture than a five foot boa constrictor.

        I’ve heard the sizing for housing for most snakes generally go by the length of the lung in the snake. The snake should be able to stretch out straight to draw air all they way into the lung if it wishes, which prevents stress and allows it to breathe deeply. It also prevents respiratory ailments.

      • Firethorn says:

        I don’t know that snakes have the brain setup to really be ‘happy’. However, assuming the snakes are well fed and can find a spot with a good temperature, the close quarters could actually make them feel more secure.

  6. mistyfire says:

    The article said “But having a lot of snakes is sometimes part of his business. ” What buisness is that? Does he have a permit and tax deductions and such? The article reads like he doesn’t so I want to know, why not apply to run a reptile business?

  7. dulcinea47 says:

    I am *really* not sure what kind of risk to public safety in “an emergency” this could cause. Really just can’t think of one thing.

    That said, cities usually have regulations about how many and what types of animals you can have in your home, and you should probably abide by them if you don’t want to get in trouble. We also don’t really know if this guy and his snakes are living in squalor or if the city just doesn’t like the idea of that many snakes.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I think it has to do with the type of snakes he has as well. If he’s going into the woods and collecting native species, I don’t think they care as much as if he were buying and breeding pythons that could pretty much eat their way through the local wildlife and maybe a chihuahua or two. You say stuff like earthquakes never happen, and maybe they don’t there, but there are always storms that could damage a house. In that case, 400 reptiles can be very difficult to manage.

      • dulcinea47 says:

        It’s Minnesota. Three quarters of the year the snakes are going to be too cold to move, if they get outside.

      • AustinTXProgrammer says:

        I would think the Minnesota climate would mitigate these concerns.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      In the original article the video shows a neat, clean facility.

  8. RandomHookup says:

    First, we need to bring in mongooses to control the snakes. Then we’ll have to bring in leopards to eat the mongooses. Looks like hyenas eat leopards, so we’ll need some of those next…

  9. gman863 says:

    Damn. Now I can’t get this stupid music video out of my head again:

    (if the link doesn’t take, just search “Snake Fram” by Ray Wylie Hubbard on YouTube.

  10. humphrmi says:

    Enough is ENOUGH! I have had it with these #&$% snakes in this #&$% house!

    • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

      I imagine the Snakes on a Plane spoofs that would ensue when he decides to travel with his pets.

  11. MNGirl says:

    I use to work in/live next to Coon Rapids! Small world…

    • Auron says:

      I kinda/sorta, but not really live next to Coon Rapids….there’s that pesky lil stretch of County 10 that’s in Blaine that separates me from Coon Rapids….as well as parts of Spring Lake Park…

  12. dorianh49 says:

    Here’s what my brain would be saying if I ever walked into this house: “omygod omygod omygod omygod omygod omygod omygod omygod omygod omygod omygod omygod omygod omygod omygod omygod”.

  13. brinks says:

    The difference between it being a secondary business for him and it being hoarding is paperwork. Does he have permits for both the animals and the breeding business? If not, I’m sure the city can find some sort of code violation and make him get rid of some of them. I’m interested in what kind of conditions the snakes are housed in. If they have adequate space, warmth, and food in a clean environment, I’d hope the city leaves him alone (but I wouldn’t expect it). If it’s a more typical hoarding situation, he needs to get rid of some.

  14. sven.kirk says:
  15. axolotl says:

    So having over 400 snakes in the house could be a potential hazard to emergency workers, but of course LESS than 400 snakes.. say, 350 snakes in one house.. that’s no problem at all!

  16. Conformist138 says:

    I watched the video on the linked page, and honestly he just needs the proper permits and licenses to make sure his business is legal. His home is clearly clean, the animal cages look clean and properly maintained. The animals are not overcrowded and they appear to be in cage sizes appropriate for them. This doesn’t look like a hoarder at all- he’s a genuine reptile enthusiast and breeder.

    I wonder what got the town on to him in the first place, since there’s no way to tell on sight from the outside. Unless there is some overwhelming smell that is beyond what the cleanliness would suggest, I don’t think this is some hazard or health issue.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      If he keeps the cages clean, the reptiles wont make much of an odor. The mice and the insects will stink, even if you clean the cages very diligently, just because they smell bad due to the nature of the critters. If I were to seriously breed mice and insects for reptile food, I would definitely have the room that they are bred in vent to the outside, and have the heat on a separate heater/air return. That being said, the odors don’t carry any more than the sewer gasses that vent out of every house’s plumbing (it’s that pipe that sticks out of the roof of every house – it allows sewer gas to escape so that it doesn’t bubble out of your plumbing fixtures.)

      Anyways, it shouldn’t bother the neighbors.

    • djanes1 says:

      With his electric bill, they probably thought he was growing pot…