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Snakes, lizards and alligators homeless after reptile wrangler is evicted from Centerville home

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Posted at 2:51 PM, Aug 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-02 21:35:13-04

CENTERVILLE, Utah -- Hundreds of snakes, lizards, tortoises, and alligators are being removed from a home here after a renowned reptile wrangler was kicked out.

Jim Dix, who runs the volunteer Reptile Rescue Service, said the home is being sold from under him. Now, he's pleading for donations to help him find a more permanent shelter for animals most people don't want.

"Everybody wants to help the dogs and cats because they give kisses," he told FOX 13 as he carried a tank with a snake inside. "Who helps the snakes?"

A boa constrictor inside a cage at Jim Dix's Reptile Rescue Service. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

A boa constrictor inside a cage at Jim Dix's Reptile Rescue Service. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Dix has been the man frightened residents, animal control officers and even wildlife officers have called when they run into a venomous snake or an alligator in Utah. He has picked up rattlesnakes from backyards and office buildings, plucked a cobra from an Avenues-area home, and fished an alligator out of a garbage bin in Lake Point (he's rescued 41 alligators in his 19-year career in Utah). This year alone, Dix said he has been called 56 times to wrangle venomous snakes.

He said he does the service for free, relying on donations to keep it going.

It's the fifth place in recent years that Dix has landed at. His original shelter site in West Valley City was eliminated by the Mountain View Corridor's construction. From there, he said, he has gone to Tooele County, Kaysville, Farr West and now, Centerville.

Constables remove a tank of lizards from a home where Jim Dix has housed his Reptile Rescue Service. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Constables remove a tank of lizards from a home where Jim Dix has housed his Reptile Rescue Service. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Neighbors said Dix was friendly and open about his reptile rescue, but they did not feel the location -- in a quiet suburban neighborhood -- was appropriate.

"Especially if there are poisonous, and I think I heard at one point, alligators are here and that's concerning with little ones wandering around," said Melissa Hunt.

Centerville City recently gave Dix a notice of violation for having venomous animals and alligators in the residential area.

"Centerville City is worried about our animals getting loose and hurting somebody in the neighborhood. Well, who the hell do they call?" he said.

Jim Dix of Reptile Rescue Service gets help from Utah DWR Lt. David Beveridge as they remove lizards from a Centerville home. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Jim Dix of Reptile Rescue Service gets help from Utah DWR Lt. David Beveridge as they remove lizards from a Centerville home. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Dix agreed a home in the suburbs is not the best place to be, but said he needs help to find a more suitable location. He pointed out West Valley City has an old shelter that's storing garbage cans right now, but city leaders haven't allowed him to use it.

"We have to care about these animals. It's part of our ecosystem. It's something that we need," he said.

On Tuesday, animal control officers from Davis County and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources helped him load up trailers full of snakes, lizards, turtles and tortoises. The Davis County Animal Shelter has agreed to house some of them temporarily. So has the DWR, who said they have called Dix to help them out from time to time.

"We want to make sure everything is OK and just help him out," said DWR Lt. David Beveridge.

Dix said he may have to start charging cities for his services. He said a shelter for reptiles is necessary in Utah.

"It's not a snake's fault he got put in the wrong place," he said.

For more information on how to help Reptile Rescue Service relocate click here.