Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Snake out for a jog in downtown Boise

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2009 at 12:31 PM

So there we were my dad and I, walking down Idaho Street on our way to lunch Monday afternoon and running toward us was a guy out for a noon-time jog.

But it was clear there was something different about this jogger. Something was different in his gait. He was favoring his left arm—not swinging it nearly as hard as the right. As he got closer, it was obvious that he had something on his left wrist. From afar it looked like a turtle. But why the hell would someone strap a turtle to his wrist to go for a jog, I thought to myself.

Just as he was about to pass us on the sidewalk, my dad and I both realized what was wrapped around his wrist: a snake. A green and black and shudder-inducing snake as big around as nice fat kielbasa.

No shit, the guy was just jogging down the street with a snake wrapped around his arm, maneuvering through the juggernaut of pedestrian traffic, through the narrow spaces between bus stops and patio diners, some of whom, like myself, probably detest snakes and don't have any expectation of being near one on a city street while trying to enjoy a bowl of pad thai.

When I got back to the office, I had to know if it was legal to take your pet snake out for a little afternoon exercise downtown.

Short answer: yes.

Long answer, thanks to city officials:
Certain kinds of snakes are prohibited as pets in Boise per the code (see bolded items 30-33 below). There are many that are perfectly fine to have as pets. If someone chose to have one as a pet and wanted to walk down the street with it on their neck, per City Code, it is perfectly legal. It would not be legal if the thing were harassing or threatening folks walking by. We could charge animal nuisance or disturbing the peace for this kind of conduct.
25. Sea turtles of any kind
26. Aldabra or Galapagos tortoises
27. Komodo dragons
28. All members of the order Crocodilia
29. Wild-caught Gila monsters and beaded lizards
30. Elapids (family of venomous snakes) except North American species, such as coral
snakes, that are housed under state guidelines.
31. Viperids (family of venomous snakes) except North American species, including but
not limited to rattlesnakes, cotton mouths, and copperheads, that are housed under state
32. Tuataras
33. Anacondas

OK, so the killer snakes are no good. But come on, neither are the non-killer snakes.

I detest snakes. I have like Indiana Jones kind of snake disdain happening here. I've had nightmares about them several times a week for as long as I can remember. (Go ahead, Freudians, have a field day with that admission.) I live in a city rather than out in the desert for many reasons, among them that I don't want to have to deal with snakes. I don't go anywhere near the zoo. And I don't mean that I skip the reptile house when I'm at the zoo. What I mean is that I don't go to the zoo, period, because I know there are snakes there. When I worked in a school library, one of the most popular books among the kids was a book on snakes. I couldn't even bring myself to touch the book to check it out for the kids.

Now I have to add the sidewalks of downtown Boise to my list of places where I might see snakes. Thanks, guy.

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