Reptile owners revolt against proposed snake crackdown

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Some Illinois lawmakers are looking to add teeth to the state's 40-year old exotic animal laws. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is onboard, pushing for a rewrite of the 1969 statutes, but some snake owners aren't feeling it.

The crackdown would include toughening restrictions on pythons and boas, and now the U.S Association of Reptile Keepers says the organization plans to fight the proposal if it moves forward.

Teskes in Bettendorf sells a couple of dozen of the snakes every year to customers in Illinois and Iowa. It can't sell snakes out of it's Moline, Illinois store because the city already bans the reptiles.

''I'm actually in love with snakes now'', said Joey Thurman, a new owner of a ball python, named ''Tiger''.

''That's just stupid'', Thurman said of any ban.

The legislation was actually prompted by last years wild animal release in Zanesville, Ohio, where a mentally ill man set free 50 of his lions, tigers, and bears and then killed himself.

Teskes manager Ken Atwell says a ban including pythons and boas doesn't make any sense.

''It's ridiculous. It didn't even happen here in Illinois. The problem like they're having in Florida now, people releasing them. It can't happen here. Up here it gets too cold, they would never make it'', Atwell said. ''Even if we decdied to register them like dogs or cats that would be a better way to do it than banning the whole thing''.

He doesn't agree with keeping big snakes as pets, like 12 foot long boas.

''They're too big for that environment'', Atwell said.

Still, all snakes are not created equal. Thurman's python won't get any bigger than 4 feet long, and he says an-all out ban would not be fair.

''They could arrest me, they can do anything, I would still own him'', he said.'