That bites!



As foreclosures increase throughout the West, ex-homeowners slamming the door on the way out sometimes abandon cats, dogs and other pets, including exotic snakes. And then there are the native snakes that slither back to reclaim their turf once the humans are gone. The variety of poisonous and non-poisonous snakes co-existing with subdivisions can make a person nervous — especially those firefighters who are called upon to “do something” to protect the neighborhood. But catching snakes takes some experience and guts, reports the Arizona Republic, and that’s why the Sun City Fire Department asked Daniel Marchand of the Phoenix Herpetological Society to conduct training exercises. Marchand brought along lots of hissing snakes in buckets and boxes and provided long metal tongs to pick up the snakes — safely. Dr. Michelle Ruha, a specialist in medical toxicology, assured the firefighters that people who get hurt often bring the fangs on themselves: “A patient was bitten on the tongue after sticking the rattlesnake in his mouth to ‘calm’ the animal,” she said. “Another patient was bitten on the face after trying to kiss a rattlesnake.”


One man’s pile of rusting metal is another man’s prized possession, at least in central Wyoming’s Natrona County. Take the 73-year-old LaSalle coupe owned by Hank Baures. The heap really doesn’t need much, he told the Casper Star-Tribune, just some new windows, new brakes, a brand-new interior, exterior paint and then some vigorous polishing to shine everything. When all that might happen is anybody’s guess; in the meantime, Baures is not happy with the county’s new found emphasis on enforcing a code that calls for homeowners to clear out unlicensed cars and other “garbage.” “They will need a long time to convince me my 1937 LaSalle is a piece of junk,” he insists. He did not comment on the state of several other vehicles he stores on his land. Other homeowners, however, think any accumulation of machinery and equipment resembles hoarding on a large scale, and they complain that the result depresses property values. County commissioners, uncomfortable at being called “the Gestapo” over the issue, say they hope to find a middle ground.

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