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Ban on keeping lizards, snakes as pets in Minneapolis could be lifted

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A rule that bans Minneapolis residents from keeping lizards, snakes, turtles and other reptiles as pets could be lifted next year.

The City of Minneapolis has confirmed that its wild animal code will be among the ordinances it will be reviewing next year, amid growing calls to loosen a rule some say is stigmatizing small reptiles.

Ordinance 74.50 states that "no person shall keep or allow to be kept any place in the city any wild, exotic, dangerous, or non-domestic animal or reptiles."

Owners can get a special permit costing $750, the Minnesota Daily reports, but this is valid for just 21 days.

St. Paul reptile store manager Sara Szabo is starting to collect signatures for a petition to loosen the restrictions, even though she says the rules are rarely enforced.

"The only time they enforce it is if people are being really dumb," she told the Daily. "If you decide to bring a 16-foot Burmese python to a park and scare everybody with it, you deserve to get hit with a fine."

Rather than restrict keeping reptiles as pets, the ordinance was initially enacted to tackle animal abuse and restrict circuses, the Daily notes. According to MPR, the ordinance passed in early 2008.

The rules are somewhat looser in St. Paul, KARE 11 reports, with people allowed to keep non-venomous snakes as pets, for instance, though owners do need the approval of their neighbors before they can get a permit.

Chris Smith, president of the Minnesota Herpetological Society, told the Daily: "A change in the ordinance [in Minneapolis] not only helps private owners, but it also helps educators to dispel myths and fears."

Man accused of letting snake freeze to death

A man in St. Paul could be hit with a felony animal cruelty charge after being accused of leaving a pet snake to die outside his home.

The Pioneer Press reports the snake was left outside a property in the 1000 block of Lawson Avenue East after a dispute on Friday.

Police say a 27-year-old woman and her boyfriend were staying at a friend's place when they got into an argument, which resulted in the friend (a 38-year-old man) ordering them out of the house – along with their possessions.

She is said to have asked him to leave the 3- to 4-foot-long snake on the porch so it wouldn't freeze, but he is accused of leaving it outside, where it died from exposure to the cold, the newspaper reports.

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