PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Michael Whewell loves snakes.
He has a passion for them. He can tell you that they smell with their tongues, and that his favorite is a 10-foot long Albino Burmese Python.
But it wasn’t always like that.
“I used to be terrified of snakes until about three and a half years ago,” said Whewell.
Exposure to a friend’s reptile room changed all that.
“Ever since, I’ve loved them to death and can’t get enough of them,” he says.
But occasionally, Whewell takes a couple of his pets out on the front lawn for some sun and a stretch.
However, it’s not the kind of curb appeal neighbors on Meadowlark Drive in Scott Township are looking for.
“They had that yellow one out with a friend who was the same size, and an iguana,” said Shannon Calabria, a neighbor.
Calabria is a teacher who lives next door. She has a 7-year-old daughter Aislinn, and is expecting another child soon. She’s afraid that the creatures could somehow find a way into her home.
“So, with a new one on the way, I’m just afraid,” she says.
Scott Township Police and the animal control officer have investigated, but there’s no ordinance regulating snakes.
“They have them for dogs,” Calabria said. “You’re only allowed to have three dogs; you have to have licenses for all of them. But 20 snakes was okay?”
Whewell, a 19-year-old, self-taught, amateur herpetologist now has 25 snakes and two geckos in his bedroom. None are venomous and none have escaped the house.
“I wish I could just like teach people about them,” says Whewell, “Instead of them thinking that they’re dangerous and everything.”
Handling a python is a little bit like being in a massage chair.
Whewell does not believe that there are any laws that will prevent him from continuing with his hobby. But that doesn’t stop neighbors from wishful thinking.
“I want them gone,” says Calabria.