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From the Idaho Falls, Idaho Post Register, July 3, 2008:

Idaho Falls officials on the lookout for poisonous snake

Post Register  
An Idaho Falls man told city officials that his highly poisonous pet coral snake escaped from his Wabash Avenue home 3 weeks ago.

If you see a bright yellow-, red- and black-ringed snake curled in some rocks, stay away. Then call Idaho Falls Animal Control or police.

City officials are warning people about a coral snake that escaped from its owner’s house on the 600 block of Wabash Avenue about three weeks ago. It is no ordinary pet.

The snake is one of the most venomous in the United States.

And that’s why city officials are trying to educate people about the snake, which is native to Texas and whose bright colors tend to attract curious children.

“Children aren’t used to poisonous snakes in the area except for rattlesnakes,” said Irene Brown, director of Idaho Falls Animal Control.

Her department and Idaho Falls police were notified about the escape Wednesday by Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center personnel.

Brown said the family that owned the snake brought their son to the hospital Tuesday night because the parents were afraid it had bitten him. (It hadn’t.)

Since being notified, animal control personnel have been searching for the snake, mostly around the Wabash Avenue area.

But Brown is not optimistic. Coral snakes are very reclusive and are not aggressive unless they are picked up, but they are drawn to secluded, dark areas such as wood piles, under rocks and thick vegetation, which makes them hard to find.

“I talked to some experts from Reptile Gardens in South Dakota, and they said it’s like finding a needle in a haystack,” she said.

Brown believes the 18-inch snake is probably outside, but that it won’t last long or will die with the first freeze. The snake, which she said the owner got in Texas, can go without food for several months but needs a readily available source of water.

Owning a venomous snake within the city of Idaho Falls is a misdemeanor offense and is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Lt. Joe Cawley of the Idaho Falls Police Department said police are investigating, but so far, the owners haven’t been cited.

“It’s hard to give a citation if we haven’t even seen the thing yet,” he said.

Posted by Frank - July 3, 2008 - Thanks to John for the referral.  

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