Coon Rapids Tells Man He Has Too Many Snakes

COON RAPIDS, Minn. (WCCO) — A man’s love of snakes and reptiles has led to trouble with the City of Coon Rapids.

Scott Nellis owns more than 400 snakes, geckos and lizards; but Coon Rapids wants him to downsize.

From the outside, Nellis’ house looks like your typical Coon Rapids home. But what’s on the inside sets it apart. His house is full of roommates that are of the coldblooded sort.

“You mention snake and 95 percent of people go ewww, snakes. I can understand that,” said Nellis, who breeds snakes.

His hobby that started 15 years ago and eventually bloomed into a business of 60 lizards, 363 snakes and the necessary food, both insect and rodent, to keep them alive.

But Nellis’ passion for reptiles has put him at odds with city.

“It’s very frustrating,” he said.

Coon Rapids City Attorney Stoney Hiljus said the snakes are the issue.

Last October, a neighbor complained. The city then searched Nellis’ home and questioned its livability.

“It could pose a risk for public safety if there is an emergency,” Hiljus said.

The city wanted Nellis to have fewer animals, and he said he could do that. But having a lot of snakes is sometimes part of his business.

During that October search, the city also realized Nellis’ collection included snakes that are illegal in Coon Rapids.

Nellis has several species of boa constrictor and python. He, however, sees many of those snakes as more pet than product.

“I have snakes that are favorites, that I handle two three times a week,” he said. “It would be devastating [to lose them].”

Scott sees his coldblooded companions as an escape from the daily grind, and he is willing to fight to keep them.

“My job that brings home the paycheck is a rather boring job,” Nellis said. “That job brings home the paycheck and it basically sucks the life out of me. So coming home and playing with the reptiles gives me meaning to life.”

Nellis and the city are working together to try to come to a compromise, but it could take months before it’s sorted out. They still haven’t decided how many snakes would need to go, but the pythons and boas make up about two thirds of his snake collection.

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  • Bill

    Why did the neighbor complain?

    Were the snakes too noisy?

    • Roy

      He just is to scared of them.


  • Uncle Rico

    “My job that brings home the paycheck is a rather boring job,” Nellis said. “That job brings home the paycheck and it basically sucks the life out of me. So coming home and playing with the reptiles gives me meaning to life.” Hope your boss doesn’t read that.

    • Uncle Fester

      And once again we get to hear from that moron Uncle Rico the rhodes scholer! Maybe Uncle Rico can tell Cheers how to get rid of D-breath! As I’m positive he deals with it on a daily basis!

      • Lurch

        Wow. Your post doesn’t exactly make you look too bright either.

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      • Uncle Rico

        Rhodes scholer? Obviously that’s not you, “Fester.” Smarter than you are, hahahaha!!!!!!!!!

    • yipes

      I agree. I hope he doesn’t care about that paycheck, because it may be history. Not the best choice of words to put out there for all to see.

  • Larry

    Talk about a reptile disfunction! Am I right people!?

  • Ian

    Nothing wrong with what this man is doing, nothing at all.

    There is on average about 1 death caused from captive reptiles every year.
    Horses have over 200!
    Livestock in general has around 100…

    PEANUTS kill more people per year!!

    COME ON…

    • Exp

      A lot of exotic snakes are not illegal because of danger to people, they’re illegal because they are invasive species, meaning non-native and if they get free can damage the ecosystem we have here.

      The southern states are infested with pythons and boas that don’t belong there, but have made themselves home after escaping and are breeding in huge numbers, causing native animals to suffer either by being starved out or eaten.

      • Chuck

        Wrong, Not southern States, One state and not even half of that state has a problem. cats do more harm to the ecosystem than any animal. The Man works and makes money. How is that a bad thing. City never said he didn’t take good care of them. They just don’t like snakes. I hated a few jobs I have had and they harm the ecosystem with all the waste. So should they all be closed up too. None of his animals could ever live outside in MN, or do anything to the ecosystem in 99% off this country. Call a zoo and they will tell you the same thing. Most zoo’s and vets will tell you, most of what UN-trained people say about the snakes in Florida is BS.

      • Roy

        So is your dog and cat yet its not illegal to keep them. In quite a few cities, such as Detroit, they are an invasive dangerous species attacking and killing many people yearly. And just think in addition to this, they are able to live and breed in every state in this country.

  • Stupid

    Big Gov. sticking its nose where it does not belong again.

    • Truth Be Told.....

      …..he has less snakes in his House than Congress does in their’s!

  • wowwowwow

    Who would want all that in their House, and how does liberal come up in this you weird thinker

    • Chuck

      What the hell part of this story do people not under stand. “His hobby that started 15 years ago and eventually bloomed into a business”

  • maxey

    If these posts are representative, it would appear that snake lovers are on the low rung of the smarts ladder. I’d prefer they not be hoarding these things.

  • Pattie

    I heard HORRIBLE stink was the problem. Can you imagine how much by-product came from that many snakes, etc… and their cages. All in the BACK-YARD garden. These animals are not vegetarians.
    I wouldn’t want to be a neighbor to that mess.
    Neighbors and the city thought it was coming from inside his house.

  • wowwowwow

    Not in his freaking house too many, They probly stink

  • Marine0311

    Why did he even let the inspector in his house?

  • Pla-eese

    Good thing it’s not his siding on his house or he would have been arrested by now. That’s right coon rapids not Burnsville, sorry.

  • angelcarver

    the socialist liberal city of coon rapids will probably go into people’s houses next you know, to see what types of food people are eating and all that. they will want to control what people are eating, even though they are not your usual fat liberal and stuff.

  • Tc Kelly

    Hell, i’d adopt one or two :)

  • G Dog

    Bet his obsession with snakes is really helping property values in his neighborhood.

    • Roy

      What the heck does pets have anything to do with property value?
      If he’s like most pet owners he will leave from idiots like you dogging on him about his pet selection, then your property value will drop from the extra vacant home.

  • I Love Snakes

    They taste like chicken.

  • Phil

    They need to change the name of their town to North American Ringtailed Mammal Rapids.

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  • teremist

    This article was not clear about whether or not he is keeping venomous snakes. A detail that greatly changes the equation. Nor was it specific about the types of lizards he keeps. (Some are dangerous, others are not.) Boas and pythons pose very different hazards when they become large. The article mentioned some of his snakes were illegal to own. WHICH ONES? Is there not a point where specific exotic animal permits must be obtained? As well as licensing to deal in exotics? If he is NOT meeting the legal criteria for permits and licenses, and INSPECTIONS, shut him down. IF he is meeting those criteria, then he needs to formulate and present an emergency plan in the event of a fire, other emergency, or animal escape. That’s what good neighbors do. He also needs to make a plan for the animals in the event he is no longer able to care for them, or dies. That’s what responsible owners do.

  • Angfreda

    Is where he lives zoned for a commercial business such as that, and does he pay taxes on the income from his enterprise?

    • teremist

      I don’t know. I do know that there are both state and federal permits, certificates, and licenses that must be current to deal commercially in any exotic species, with special additional licensing mandatory for some species. (Among the requirements are standards of care and containment.) With the numbers of animals he is keeping, he certainly falls in this category.

  • Jon Anthony

    Love all critters here. Even reptiles. But when you have over a certain # of ANY species – you are certifiable. This fellow crossed that bridge long ago.

    • teremist

      LOL, YES he did. At what point did he go across the bridge of normal relationships, to the land of “I NEVER want a date again! Think I’ll collect snakes!”
      I am also a critter lover, but I draw the line at insects. LOL.

  • Amy

    I’d rather live next to this guy than my neighbors with their german shepherd that snarls, barks and growls at anybody who walks by their fence. Unlike ball pythons and leopard geckos, that animal can kill someone. Though I still wouldn’t support having their dog taken away. Sad that some people just can’t mind their own business.

    • teremist

      Dear Amy, Sometimes dog people are just oblivious to the disturbances their pets create. Have you tried speaking to them about your concerns? If that is not an option, try discussing it with animal control. Is the dog truly aggressive or just lonely? Most dogs that bark too much are just dumped alone in the yard, and unsocialized. It may just be a case of owner ignorance. You might suggest Cesar’s Way videos as a great way to learn all you need to know to care for and train dogs. If all else fails, throw a dog treat over the fence every time you walk by, by the third or fourth time, CUJO will turn into a sweetie……and NEVER run out of treats.

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  • Town says to man, “No Sir, you have too many critters!” | Big Reptile Network | Reptile News

    […] The city of Coon Rapids is telling its citizen to downsize, as he has over 400 snakes, geckos and lizards in his home, reports WCCO 4 News. […]

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