Ames Says No to Snake Breeder

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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."


  • Michael Meador

    The irrational fear being shown by the city counsel is no different than the irrational fear and ignorance of racists. It’s shameful and it’s irresponsible. It’s discriminatory and it’s offensive. The city counsel should be ashamed of itself and the voters should be very angry.

  • Troy Hendrickson

    Actually, a licensed, inspected breeding facility would be an ideal home business, it would not require a lot of real estate, most likely not a high volume business, and if run by a responsible person, like this, would not pose a threat to anyone at all.

  • Ryan Earles

    I’ve known Kyle for 11 years. If he is not qualified to run a business from his home, then nobody is. He’s the single most intelligent and responsible person I know. I’m not a fan of snakes and I still felt safe sleeping in his home. Unfortunately, the neighbors felt threatened and felt the need to ruin his plans. I feel bad for him. He was really excited for this.

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