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Boy Freaks Out Restaurant Patrons by Bringing in Rattlesnake

Man alerts nearby police officer, who calls in Marin Humane Society to handle 4 1/2-foot rattler.

A 16-year-old boy was walking around Novato's Old Town area Wednesday with a lethal weapon and, according to several witnesses, didn't really have a clue about the danger.

The weapon was a rattlesnake — mature, 4 1/2-foot-long, 2-inch diameter rattlesnake. Yeah, that would be the venomous kind of snake.

An alarmed man saw the boy walk into restaurant on Grant Avenue at about 3:45 p.m. with the snake draped around his neck.

"At that point," said the man, who didn't want to be identified, "that made me real nervous."

"We were freaking out," said a Mi Pueblo employee. "We're thinking, how can somebody be carrying a snake into a restaurant? I actually had a nightmare about it last night."

The man, who said he had a lot of experience dealing with snakes, had been driving by when he spotted the boy walking down Grant Avenue near the restaurant and pulled over to inquire about it.

"When I saw the size of the snake, my jaw dropped," the man said. "I was sort of dumbstruck that this boy was walking around with a venomous snake. I actually asked him, 'Are you crazy?'"

The boy, filled with bravado and sporting a smile, looked to be gaining attention from his dangerous stunt, the man said. The boy was wearing motorcycling gloves and holding the head of the snake right behind the jaw with one hand and the snake's tail with the other hand as the snake's body wrapped around the boy's neck. 

"He was holding it the right way, but those gloves provided no protection at all," the man said. "And he was putting his finger in front of the snake's mouth, making its tongue come out."

The boy said he had found the snake on a trail and that his father knew about his new pet. "He said his mom didn't know about it," the man said. "When I told him it's illegal to be in possession of a venomous snake in California, he said he had no idea."

When the conversation ended, the man watched the boy walk into Mi Pueblo. The man then looked up Machin Avenue and saw a officer who had just walked outside the station and was getting into his cruiser just steps away from the restaurant. The man asked the officer to roll down his window and he told the officer what he'd seen.

"He was disbelieving, but he went down there and saw it for himself," the man said.

The snake was placed in a bag, and the officer called the , said Lt. Keith Heiden. Humane society publicist Carrie Harrington said the snake was relocated.

choti singh June 10, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Cody I handled a lot of venomous snakes growing up in Zambia...caught wild ones all the time and drove my parents insane with worry. But that's the job of parents, to worry...I know, I am one now! Follow your passion, develp your dreams, study more...those who are curious and pursue knowledge are the one's who make changes in the world; not those naysayers who fear anything not on TV. Kudos to you kiddo....I hope to read more about you and what you achieve in the years to come! And to your parents....hang in there! He will grow and his frontal lobe will develop and he will understand consequences much better by the time he's in his early 20s...until then, cherish that you have a child who is intellectually alive!!
Michelle Lawrence June 10, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Cody seems to believe he had the situation totally under control the entire time. His youth doesn't allow him to see how this could have gone from a case of bad judgment to a legal case if anyone would have gotten hurt. You're lucky Cody, and hopefully will learn from this situation.
Natalie McNear June 11, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Hey Cody, Good to see you posting on here explaining the whole situation. As you surely know by now, bringing a rattlesnake into a restaurant (even if it's restrained) is not the wisest decision. Unfortunately, many people are misinformed about rattlers and snakes in general, and therefore tend to freak out when they see one. Our local species of rattler, the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake, is actually abundant in Marin County. However, they are so well-camouflaged and have generally inoffensive dispositions that most people don't see them. Contrary to what was stated above, it is not illegal to own native venomous snakes in California, and you don't need a fishing license to collect them as you do with other reptiles. Most towns and cities in Marin however, do have local ordinances that restrict ownership on such species. I'm an experienced field herper (like a birder, except we look for and photograph reptiles and amphibians) in Marin County and a friend of Laurie... She's a great person and has a wealth of knowledge about rattlesnakes, so you'll love meeting her and others who share your interest at the NBHS meeting. There are plenty of field herpers throughout the Bay Area who'd probably be happy to show you around a bit. I'm in Mississippi for the summer, but when I get back to California in August we could probably meet up and find some cool stuff. It's great to see teenagers with an interest in reptiles, and I hope you go on to study biology after high school.
Sara June 11, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Thank you, Maggie. I agree that if I'm going to say something like that, I should abide by it as well. I thought I was being constructive in both cases but perhaps I misjudged. Please don't take it as a personal attack, and if you did, I apologize. I value the health of Earth's ecosystem far more than may be apparent here.
Venomous Handler June 14, 2012 at 02:54 AM
No snakes mate for life and Rattlesnake do not lay eggs. they have live births of fully venomous babies.

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