One bite was all it took to get Derek Nathanael Castaneda in trouble with authorities: His precious banded gila monster reptile decided to chomp on the San Pedro man, and he ended up unconscious in a hospital. Officials there contacted authorities, who realized that such a pet is not legal.
Today the L.A. City Attorney's office announced that Castaneda was convicted of possession of a native California reptile and the keeping of a wild reptile without a permit:
Bad news all around for the guy, although he survived the poisonous bite, for which there is no known antivenin.
He'll have to do three years probation, attend "animal neglect classes," pay $1,000 to the Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Preservation Fund, submit to searches by the Department of Fish and Game, give up said gila monster to the Orange County Zoo, and attend AA meetings (he's also got a DUI on his record).
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The bite happened Jan. 12. Authorities who subsequently searched Castaneda's home also claim to have found two rattlesnakes that were allegedly being kept without a permit -- a no-no.
(Imagine the horror of having to search this guy's place knowing that not only did he have a venomous reptile, but that there might be others slithering around).
The snakes got the worst of it. They were "euthanized."