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Man attacked by Gila monster sentenced for having a Gila monster

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Derek Nathaneal Castaneda was rendered unconscious and taken to the hospital in January after being attacked by the venomous, 18-inch Gila monster he kept illegally as a pet in his San Pedro home.

On Tuesday, the 34-year-old man was sentenced to three years of probation, a series of animal neglect classes, a year of AA meetings and fined $1,000 for possessing the potentially lethal reptile and a pair of rattlesnakes.

According to the City Attorney's Office, Castaneda -- on probation at the time of the attack for an earlier DUI case -- was convicted of unlawful possession of a native California reptile species, and the unlawful keeping of a wild reptile without a permit.

The Gila monster was taken to the Orange County Zoo. The snakes, illegal to possess without a permit, were reportedly euthanized.

For a safer appreciation of the cold-blooded types, perhaps try a stroll through LA Zoo's newly opened LAIR.

With contributions by KPCC Wire Services

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