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When snakes get a whiff, they turn tail

Pharmacist James Tennyson developed a smelly, granulated concoction as a favor to customers who were annoyed by snakes.

Now, three years after its introduction, his "Snake-A-Way" repellent has turned into a full-time business with a growing international clientele.

In a warehouse on the outskirts of Pelham, near the Florida border, workers make Snake-A-Way by mixing naphthalene, a coal tar derivative used in moth balls; sulfur; and porous granules of fossilized ocean organisms.

In tests on 160 snakes at the University of Florida in 1989, 83 percent _ and eight of nine poisonous species _ were repelled.

Tennyson began selling the stuff in 1990 and sales have soared to $520,000 last year.

Although snakebite is a minor danger in the U.S., poisonous snakes are a major cause of death in southeast Asia and parts of Latin America.

"The good thing about this is that it doesn't hurt the snake, Tennyson said.