AMES, Iowa — Call it snakes on a Twain. Twain Street, that is, in Ames. That’s where 26-year-old Kyle Thompson lives with 44 snakes.
“A lot of people are afraid of snakes and it’s an irrational fear,” Thompson says, “I understand irrational fear. I have the same irrational fear of spiders.”
It’s that irrational fear, Thompson says, that’s stopping him from turning his love for boas and pythons into his career. The city of Ames recently turned down his application to run a small commercial reptile business out of his home. Neighbors were just too scared when they found out Thompson is raising snakes here, and has been for two years now. Board members admit their decision was based more on emotion than fact.
“People have a right to the use and enjoyment of their property so that has to do with how secure you feel,” says Ames City Planner Jeffery Bensen.
That said, the city has gotten no complaints about the snakes, and has no reports of the snakes ever getting out. And Thompson, they agreed, is qualified to raise them and run his business — just not out of his house.
“All the board members thought that he sounded very responsible,” Bensen says, “He obviously has a lot of knowledge of snakes. He’s owned snakes since he caught a garter snake in his back yard when he was six years old.”
Thompson says he’s weighing his options. “The plan prior to this was to slowly expand,” Thompson says, “And grow from there and continue to expand and create some unique animals going into the future.”
Thompson is still passionate about his snakes. He’ll just have to move outside the city if he wants to make a business out of breeding and selling them out of his home.
“My business isn’t so much of a business as it is a hobby that I have extreme passion for and that I would just..I would love to see it break even and pay for itself,” Thompson says, “I just want to be able to continue to do this and spread my love of these animals to other people.”