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Melissa McKay, Moorhead, Published June 25 2013

Letter: Let’s dispel misinformation, myths about keeping snakes

In response to the article that was printed regarding West Fargo giving the initial OK to allow snakes as pets within the city:

While reptiles may not be everyone’s ideal choice as a pet, there are many of us who adore our scaly friends and would quickly choose them over the standard furry or feathered choices for pets. It seems that nowadays anything that could offend someone is prohibited from being in public on the off-chance that the “offensive object” and the person who would be offended could be in the same place at the same time.

Many people fear snakes because they fear harm from the snakes or believe the stigma of them being slimy, creepy critters. This, however, is not the case, and you need only spend a few minutes talking to anybody who keeps them to learn differently. Most keepers are very passionate and more than willing to share their knowledge with those who are willing to listen and learn.

The choice of words when referring to snakes needs to be done with consideration. Boas and pythons both have species within each class that vary greatly in size. Full-size boas can range in size from 3 feet to 20 feet full grown, and pythons typically range from 4 feet to 25 feet full grown.

It should also be noted that the West Fargo ordinance covers snakes that typically grow to large lengths and require more care and space than the snakes that are typically kept as pets, such as corn snakes and ball pythons. The actual snakes covered in the ordinance are green anacondas, yellow anacondas, reticulated pythons, Indian pythons, Burmese pythons, North African rock pythons, South African rock pythons, amethystine pythons and larger boa constrictors. Most hobbyists do not keep these varieties of snakes, so they need not fear the ordinance affecting them. Some allowances regarding reptiles are better than none.

There are those of us who love the city and our scaled pets, so some semblance of balance is much appreciated. We just ask people to educate themselves and understand reptiles before fearing them out of ignorance. If anyone reading this would like to conquer their fear or just want to better understand snakes or reptiles in general, they should feel free to contact the local Fargo Herpetological Society, which can be found on Facebook. They hold monthly public meetings, and the members are a wealth of firsthand knowledge.