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LA
Tom Weidner, owner of Snakes Alive and Habitat Systems, displays his albino monocled cobra.  He's (the cobra, not Tom) de-venomed but is still quite willing to bite and chew.  Tom led the discussion and answered our attendees' snaky questions.  Bethany asked the most.

Topics covered included City regulations on large snakes and venomous snakes, how some people release unwanted snakes into the wild, plus a variety of other snake information.  He told one humorous story about the Iowa DNR finding a "state record bull snake."  It turned out to be a Burmese python.  Sort of reminds us of all the "peeranyas" they find.  By the way, the Iowa DNR forbids you to possess bull snakes.  You can run over them, chop them up with a hoe, or even eat them.  But you better never try to keep one alive.

LA
Gary and his California king snake, Chocolate, were the earliest arrivals.

LA
Our star, Bubba, a 14-foot Burmese python sniffs the territory.  Maybe looking for a snack?  His semi-opaque eyes indicate a shed coming on.

LA
Zach, Bubba's assistant and personal trainer, shows the proper way to wear a Burmese python.  You might not want to try this at home alone.  However, when you're celebrating SNAKESGIVING, anything goes.

LA
Tom and Zach help Colby (a ball python owner) try on a Burmese python for size.

LA
As expected, it's a perfect fit.

LA
"Um, guy's.  Bubba's getting awfully heavy."

 

LA
So, Gary had to try him on for size, too.

LA
Bethany, who'd said "NO" for 20 minutes, finally decided to meet Bubba.

LA
Bill, another ball python owner, said he likes Bubba, too.

LA
Melisha also likes the big guy (Bubba not Zach).

 

LA
Tim says he thinks he's done this before.

LA
So, Stan and Ollie start putting Bubba back in his evening quarters.  Zach says if he can find a Santa hat that fits Bubba, he'll let you sit in his (Bubba's not Zach's) lap and tell him what you want for SNAKSEMAS.  You will see more of Bubba in future months.  Look for Bubba and friends at the next Great Iowa Pet Expo next October. 
LA

Article in Des Moines Register on same event ...

Snake experts and fanciers gather at a Des Moines pet store to praise their ssssssssslithery friends. 

By BETHANY WESTENDORF

Being thankful for a 14-foot Burmese python isn’t generally what people profess during Thanksgiving dinner. But at Aqualand Pets Plus on Sunday night, giving thanks for snakes was at the top of the agenda.

The first annual “Snakesgiving” event at the pet store at Sixth and Euclid avenues was an informal seminar for snake lovers on how to get permits to keep certain kinds of snakes in the metro area. Tom Weidner, a Des Moines herpetologist and Iowa State Fair Snakes Alive exhibitor, was on hand to answer questions about the process.

Under Des Moines’ dangerous-and-exotic-animal ordinance, any snake 6 feet or longer cannot be kept in the city unless the owner has a permit. To get a permit, Weidner said, the owner must have 20 hours of instruction about snake care and handling. Any person who wants to keep a venomous snake must have 1,000 hours of instruction. The Iowa Herpetology Society has offered the classes in past years.

“There are only six people in Des Moines who have the permit. There are lots who claim they do, but they don’t,” Weidner said as he handled a feisty albino Monaco (monocled, LA) cobra.

Weidner said it’s common for people to just turn large snakes loose when they get bigger than expected. He often takes in the larger snakes that are confiscated by the city. His collection includes more than 100 of the reptiles.

“That’s the bad part about showing these guys. It gets people fired up about getting one. By no means am I recommending it,” he said. “I just try to inform people about how to get one and take care of it once they have it.”

Zach Wright, owner of Bubba, a Burmese python, said he’s thankful for his snake.

“Big snakes are really cool, and Bubba is really nice to people,” Wright said. Bubba “wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

Bubba was the star Sunday night. Although other people responded to the invitation to show off their snakes, none of the critters compared to Bubba, who weighs about 100 pounds.

Larry Arnold, co-owner of Aqualand, snapped pictures for kids, adults and the Aqualand Web site.

“We just want to answer questions people might have about snakes,” he said.

Colby Crase, 10, of Winterset wasn’t scared to carry the python on his shoulders. “It’s really heavy and kind of weird, but I’d do it over and over again,” he said.

Crase’s mother, Tammy, said they made the trip to Des Moines to share Colby’s new ball (python) snake. “He’s had it about a month and just loves it. I just stand way back,” she said.

Snakesgiving II

© 2003, © 2004, © 2005  LA Productions.

3600 Sixth Avenue

Corner of Sixth & Euclid Avenues

Des Moines, IA 50313

515 283-0300

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