Man fights to keep his 360 snakes

March 22, 2012 at 1:28 PM
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COON RAPIDS, Minn., March 22 (UPI) -- A Minnesota man is trying to change the minds of city officials who say his collection of 360 snakes and 60 lizards makes his home unfit for humans.

Scott Nellis of Coon Rapids said he began collecting the animals as pets and inventory to be sold at Midwestern reptile expos in 1996 and his menagerie dramatically increased in size in 2004, the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reported Thursday.

City officials found out about Nellis' reptiles, as well as the 250 rodents and two tubs of cockroaches he keeps as a food source for the snakes and lizards, when a neighbor complained about the smell coming from discarded wood shavings in his back yard in October.

Inspectors said Nellis' home had been rendered unfit for human habitation and ordered him to get rid of the reptiles.

However, he said he is hoping to change their minds at Friday's city council meeting.

"This is my private life we're talking about," Nellis said. "It's my contention the city has no business whatsoever trying to dictate what I do legally inside my house."

City Attorney Stoney Hiljus said hazards in the home include fire risks from extension cords and hallways made narrow by drawers full of reptiles. He said the air quality in the home contains excess amounts of ammonia, which is created by animal waste.

"Now that we're aware of these code violations, we have no choice but to get involved," Hiljus said.

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