Injuriousss – Feds Act to Restrict Trade in Giant Snakes

By on March 6, 2015 with 58 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

At an announcement today in south Florida, which is ground zero for the problem of invasive species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a ban on the trade in four large constricting snake species. The FWS designated them as “injurious” under the Lacey Act, forbidding snake traders from importing or transporting the large constrictors in the interstate exotic pet trade. This legal move is “act two” in the long-running drama that followed the release of a comprehensive 2009 U.S. Geological Survey report that detailed the devastating consequences that nine species of large constrictor snakes have had, and may have, on the environment. The species listed today under the Lacey Act are the reticulated python, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, green anaconda, and Beni anaconda. All four species are captured from the wild and shipped to the United States for the pet trade, with reticulated pythons also captive-bred in inhumane, warehouse-type conditions. The reticulated python, especially, makes up a large portion of the constrictor snake trade, and is responsible for fatal attacks on humans.

In 2012, the FWS listed four other species under the Lacey Act, so these two executive agency actions cover eight of the nine species listed as problematic by the federal wildlife agency – with only boa constrictors omitted from the list. The prior listing included the Burmese python, Northern African python, Southern African python, and yellow anaconda. We applaud the efforts of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and FWS Director Dan Ashe for taking this latest action and not letting this issue lie unattended and in the reeds any longer. We are hopeful that the Administration will continue to work toward listing boa constrictors as well.

The trade in large constricting snakes is fraught with risks.  The trade is inhumane, with a high death rate for the snakes who are captured in the wild and often transported for thousands of miles. As with so many other forms of trade in live wildlife, there is an enormous mortality rate during capture, holding, and transport, where the animals typically don’t get fed or watered and are denied any medical care.  In one instance in 2013, authorities discovered 850 snakes in the garage of a New York area animal control officer who was selling the snakes over the Internet.

The trade also poses serious risks to the ecology of a wide range of states in the southern tier of the nation, where temperatures are warm enough to allow these animals to survive. Many people who acquire these giant snakes have no idea what they are getting into – in terms of the care and the cost, to say nothing of the smell and the upkeep of an in-home habitat for the animals – and some of these overwhelmed snake owners dump the animals into the wild. The federal government has said that there may be tens of thousands of Burmese pythons in south Florida, and one survey suggested that the snakes have wiped out most small- and medium-sized animals there, including raccoons and bobcats. Boa constrictors have colonized south Florida and Puerto Rico and loose boas have been found in Hawaii, posing a threat to some of the most ecologically sensitive areas of North America. We’ve now tracked more than 500 human safety incidents involving large constrictors that include attacks, intentional releases, and escapes from poorly secured cages. In the United States, pet Boa constrictors and reticulated pythons have killed at least five adults and three babies.

It is much more humane and fiscally responsible to deal with the problem of invasive species through prevention, rather than to contain the animals once they’ve become established. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that’s true for snakes, too. The snake lobby – yes, there is one, if you can believe that – has fought these anticipated restrictions on the trade in dangerous snakes for years. They’ve hired lobbyists and commissioned reports that grossly inflate the purported economic losses that the pet industry would sustain if restrictions on the trade were imposed, even though these restrictions cover just a handful of the most problematic species and snake traders have hundreds of other reptiles to sell. The federal government should have seen through this smokescreen a long time ago. This is not a trade worth preserving, and it’s an economic and ecological loser for our country.

The Constitution doesn’t say a word about the right to possess anacondas or pythons.  We applaud the FWS for listing these four species, and look forward to working together to end the trade in all species of dangerous snakes.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Brian Jeffries says:

    Dogs are responsible for about 4.5 million injuries, just shy of a million of which require hospital treatment, and 42 deaths in 2014 alone and you think 500 incidents and 8 deaths over the multiple years you’ve been tracking such things is really a worthwhile effort? Your organization is a disgrace and has no desire to actually help animals, only punish pet owners.

    • Connie Andrews says:

      Snakes are wild. They are wild captured and transported to the United States. The HSUS is making the world a safer place for wild snakes, the live domesticated rabbits and rodents fed to them and for humans who are injured by these very wild animals.

      • joe stuck says:

        Actually many of the snakes in my hobby are captive born just like any litter of pure bred puppies. There are statistically fewer incidents of injury or death from reptiles than from cats an dogs and horses any day. As far as environmental impact is concerned, people who let their cats live outdoors to hunt and kill for fun should also shoulder the blame for native wildlife decline. Please educate yourself with facts and don’t just take what you see on the news as truth.

        • David Bernazani says:

          Joe: Of course there are obviously less injuries from snakes, because most people aren’t foolish enough to keep large dangerous wild snakes in their homes as “pets”. I think most of us are educated enough to know the truth when we see it– that we don’t need any more large and dangerous snakes in the hands of humans.

          • Chris says:

            you do understand he sad statistically as in if 10 people had dogs and 10 people had snakes for people would get injured from the dogs then that snakes this is what a statistic is. As for you comment yes snakes are not for every one so if you don’t like them don’t buy them there is no reason you should keep me from having them.

      • Erin says:

        The snakes are not Wild Caught. Plenty of them are being bred in captivity so wild caught snakes are not needed. Just wait until they take away your dogs and cats.

        • joe stuck says:

          You know dogs used to be wild creatures until we domesticated them and force them to live in the confines of our houses. Given a freedom of choice your dog would run away.

      • Ashley says:

        Most snakes are captive born and bred in the United States. The time of taking from the wild is long past for many species.

      • joe Zets says:

        Please do more research on the matter. The amount of pythons and other constrictors being imported is an extremely small percentage.

        Many if not all boas and pythons sold are captive bred and selectively bred for vibrant colors. They lost their camouflage and make easy prey for any number of animals.

        Florida is an isolated incident. There is no other state in our country that a python and boa can live in the wild through the winter.

        How would you feel if someone told you that you can’t take your cat or dog to your new home in a new state? Think it’s crazy? Cats do more damage than ANY animal in this country. So if your argument is that snakes eat rodents, then we must ban cats and dogs too.

      • Jeff says:

        I am an animal lover and anyone who loves animals should not judge one animal over another. Please wake up people! Two of the species of anaconda that were listed are not even imported or sold in the pet trade (those species are the DeSchauensee’s anaconda and the Beni anaconda). There has been scientific studies that have proven that the snakes cannot live outside of southern Florida. The Boa Constrictors that are said to have colonized Puerto Rico are in fact a totally different species called the Puerto Rican Boa (Chilabothrus inornatus) which is native to the Island not a dangerous invasive animal. We have people saying that the rodents that the snakes eat are domesticated, Rats and mice that may purchased at a pet store are in fact not as domesticated as we think as if they loose they will survive, thrive in the wild and will not take long to revert back to there wild instincts. Humane Society of United States has published 69 pages of information of how damaging Large Constrictor Snakes can be detailing the injuries they have caused people with that making them sick or physically attacking them down to damaging the ecosystems of the environment these “feral snakes” have been found in. The bottom of the publication has the sources where the information was gathered from, which is 597 sources most of which are from news reports which are written by journalist that might not have an unbiased information and such cross referencing the sources now will be very much less than impossible.

        Please understand that the information is available that the Humane Society of the United States has that details of Dogs, Cats, and many other Domestic animals that have attacked people, made them sick or damaged Ecosystems most of this information will by far exceed the numbers presented in the constrictor snake/ reptile publication.

        Humane Society of the United States doesn’t care that these snakes were listed. This is one of there big steps in the direction of not wanting humans to have animals as pets period. HSUS is a lobbyist group and does not help abused, neglected or mistreated animals in anyway.

        If the information is not true I would challenge for the Humane Society to of the United States to leave my comment up for all people to visit this page to see. If it is removed well for the people that read it knows the true agenda of the organization.

      • Luci says:

        Oh ok this compelling argument has just the whole thing to bed. Goodnight everyone. ??

      • Walter M. Ellsworth III says:

        I’m sorry, but your comment is full of incorrect statements. While it is true that some wild caught snakes are imported into the US, they are not the majority. The large, corporate “Pet Stores”, like Petco are guilty of the majority of wild caught animals. not just snakes. Serious snake and reptile hobbyists refrain from buying wild caught animals. So the majority of them are captive bred animals. And they are not bred in,”inhumane” ways. I’m sure there is always the exception,such as with other animal breeders. The above article is also filled with ignorance and bias. It makes it sound as if these animals are exceptionally dangerous. The FWS even referred to them as “injurious”. The thing is, only 17 people have died due to “Large constrictor snake” incidents since 1978. to put that into perspective,30-50+ people are killed in the US by domestic dogs EVERY YEAR. Yet you never see anyone lobbying to ban the keeping of pet dogs. This is out of ignorance, and there is a huge amount of bias at play here. Most people like dogs because they are furry and “cute”. While most people fear snakes and know little about them. Pet dogs are far,far, more dangerous than people’s pet snakes.

    • David Bernazani says:

      Brian– oops, you forgot to mention that there are about 80 million pet dogs in the US. (See my response to Joe). Fortunately, there are WAY fewer yahoos like you who think imprisoning snakes as “pets” is ok. So of COURSE there will be less injuries. This doesn’t change the fact that reptile have NOT been domesticated, and too many humans don’t know (or care) how to properly take care of them. And even if they do, they just keep them in crappy little aquariums which is no life for a wild animal.

      • shannon says:

        I beg to differ sir. my son is an avid lover of snakes. has been since he was 12 and bought his first ball python. he now has a 8 foot red tailed Colombian/Argentine boa, a 3 foot hypo boa, a pastel boa and a newly acquired tiger reticulated python. my son is not some yahoo. he takes his snakes out daily and makes sure they have some kind of contact. instead of comparing the stats between snakes and humans lets compare the stats between humans and humans. I have seen more reports of police killing innocent people than I have of snakes killing humans. I think the focus is on the wrong predators.

        • Luci says:

          Well said.

        • Walter M. Ellsworth III says:

          I agree with you. I have been a snake lover since I was a small child. I am now 43 and I still love my snakes. Just as much as other people do with their dogs and cats. As far as danger,far more people have been killed by dogs. not only that,but when I was young, there were many,many times I was chased down the street on my bicycle by someone’s dog. I even got bit pretty bad one time. I have never,ever,been chased down the street by someone’s pet snake or lizard. Also, the man you are replying to says that snakes and reptiles have not been “domesticated”. This is absolutely not true. There are thousands of Ball python lines that have been domesticated over thousands of generations. Same with boas. The various boa and ball python morphs that you mentioned that your son has, are all domesticated lines.

  2. Hunter Jones says:

    I also believe that local government should have a say in whether or not these animals are banned. Obviously the problem is mainly in Florida. Why punish everyone with these laws instead of just focusing on the real problem?

    • K. Wilkison says:

      I completely agree! It was -1 degrees in southern Indiana. Not one of the species banned would even survive a winter in the northern part of a Florida. This ban will actually throw rocket fuel on the poaching and illegal importation of these reptiles instead of local breeders that have been breeding and hatching non-wild caught reptiles for 20+ years.

  3. jazmyn says:

    Shouldn’t our government focus more on the human sex trade rather than the trade of “dangerous” snakes? I understand the risks of owning a large snake as a pet, but to ban species completely? Absurd. They government should not punish animals due to inadequate handing from their owners.

    • Connie Andrews says:

      This is like saying don’t do anything about multiple problems because there are worse problems out there. There are always worse problems and we should tackle them all and make the world a safer place for women and girls in the sex trade and for the wild captured snakes and the live domesticated rodents and lagomorphs fed to them. Guess what, the government can multi-task and they should. The life of one child killed by a large snake makes any effort the government puts into regulation worth it. A child’s life is priceless.

      • David Bernazani says:

        Well said, Connie.

        • Daniel says:

          Then by that logic you should give up any dogs you have. As well as your car. In fact parents are responsible for more fatalities than all snakes combined as well. Give your children to the government since they can decide what is safe for you.

      • Walter M. Ellsworth III says:

        You keep sounding as if you think all captive snakes are wild caught. This is not the case. Not at all. In fact, real hobbyists, and snake enthusiastsm will not buy captive bred. It’s large chain stores like Petco,etc that import tons of wild caught snakes. They are jerks.

  4. David Bernazani says:

    I see some snake breeders / owners have decided to complain here, with their usual whining, but saying nothing about the suffering and high mortality of these poor animals, nor the ecological disaster that Florida has become because of them.
    Sorry you can’t always have your way, cry babies. Now go whine somewhere else, while us compassionate people celebrate this sensible ruling.

    • kyle says:

      Please provide some sort of supporting data for this high mortality rate, since you appear to be an expert in herpetology.

    • Jacob says:

      Suffering? High mortality? Do you even understand why these became popular pets in the first place? Ease of care. Give them some space, food, and water, and they will be happy. They don’t die in captivity, they’re hardy, that’s why we love them. No diseases that come with cats, no aggressiveness that comes with dogs. They don’t whine, they don’t crap all over the house, they don’t tear things up. In addition, UNLIKE dogs or cats, they don’t destroy ecosystems, spread disease, or interbreed with local wildlife. You want to do something for the ecosystem? Stop breathing.

      • David Bernazani says:

        Jacob: so exactly how much “space” do you give them? Something like a large aquarium sized enclosure, right? Probably not even as long as the snake himself, huh? Yeah, what a happy life for a wild animal that was meant to slither and explore and live and breed and die in a rainforest, not in your basement in a box.

        Stop being so selfish as to what YOU want, and, if you truly care about them, let them live as they were meant to. Any time animals are bought and sold, cruelty, neglect, greed, sickness and death are always part of it. You may choose to ignore or disbelieve it, but it’s true nonetheless.

        • Jack Hill says:

          You can say the same thing about dogs and cats. You do realize that there are more cases of animal neglect and abuse in dogs and cats than snakes. So by your own logic, if you call it logic, dogs should not be owned by humans. They should not be in a house or fenced in yard. They are pack animals and should roam free. So by your logic no one should own a pet ever.

        • Daniel says:

          The ignorant will speak the loudest. I don’t own any of the big breeds of constrictors, but I recognize the erosion of our rights as Americans by special interest groups and fear mongering politicians. This article is based on science that has been disproven repeatedly. Tropical snakes cannot flourish outside of South Florida. Even here in Texas it gets too cold. Stop being willfully ignorant. I hope the day comes when they take something you love and noone will stand with you.

        • Jacob says:

          No, I do not keep them in glass enclosures. Unlike the people who are against keeping snakes as pets, I educate myself. I custom build enclosures for my animals. Custom building large, walk-in style enclosures is one of the aspects I love about keeping large snakes. Mimicking the rainforest with live plants and misting systems, utilizing bio active substrate, all of these things are part of keeping these animals. They have no clue as to whether or not they are in the rainforest. Besides, they were born in captivity, they expect dead prey, and shy away from live animals. They would never survive in the wild. Those that do survive in the wild is due to the fact that we captive breed, so that people have no reason to remove them from the wild.

      • matthew says:

        I totally agree with you Jacob

    • Eric Clark says:

      Its a very misguided compassion Dave. These animals haven’t been imported in any numbers to speak of in probably over a decade. As a matter of fact the imported specimens are usually avoided at all costs by the buyers. HSUS doesn’t think it’s time and many would be better spent going after REAL dangerous animals such as Horses and Dogs that kill hundreds of people at least a year? Low hanging fruit here with this “victory”

    • Erin says:

      As a florida resident; I have yet to see one wild snake. Yes they are out there but no. They aren’t everywhere anymore. Most have died off from the cold winters a few years ago. Florida is thriving with life. If the snakes are eating deer to survive and that is a problem to you then you should work on banning hunting since more deer are killed that way every year.

    • John says:

      How many people have these snakes injured?

    • S. Mitchell says:

      I am curious as to why no one seems to recall how it was Hurricane Andrew which severely damaged several zoos, and a large reptile CAPTIVE breeding facility, that caused so many different non-native animals to be released into Southern Florida. I visited a friend in Miami back in the late 90’s, and I was amazed at the amount of non-native bird species which have flourished since then.

      Also…has anyone looked at the charity rating of the HSUS lately?

    • Bethany says:

      My first comment was apparently deleted… So I will try again.

      Most snakes in the hobby are captive-born… Just like other animals kept as pets. Most breeders (whether large-scale or hobbyist) take care of their animals… They keep clean facilities, feed a healthy diet, and watch for disease, etc. I know many keepers that bemoan how hard it is to find a good reptile vet when their pet is sick… So few have experience with reptiles.

      Just because there are fewer reptiles kept as pets (verses cats or dogs) does not mean that keeping them is wrong… How many cats / dogs have behavior problems due to incorrect husbandry? lack of stimulation? Yet.. I do not see you calling for the ending of keeping cats / dogs as pets… Is this because you keep one yourself?

      Whether you agree with keeping cats / dogs as pets or not… This is not about that issue.. It is about the pet owners loosing their right to keep their pets. If they move across state lines, their pets will have to be sold, given away, or released into the wild. A responsible owner would never give their pet to an unknown person and would never abandon them.. But that is what owners of these large snakes will be forced to do if they move. Do you think that is a favorable outcome, to have more animals released into the wild? To put the shoe on the other foot, how would you feel if they added cats to the lacey act due to their (much greater) environmental impact? How would you feel if you could not take your pet with you?

      I keep reptiles myself.. I also have a cat. I take very good care of my pets and treat my reptiles just as I do my cat. If you are for owning ANY animal, you cannot say that you are for taking away the rights of others that choose another type. As for the “dangerous” nature of these snakes, when handled correctly there is almost no risk involved… And yes, there are those that would handle incorrectly, but the same could be said of any large dog… Rottweilers, mastiffs, etc. All have enough weight and bite force to do great damage and if not handled correctly, they can as well.

    • Julien says:

      David if you knew about snakes you’d know most of these pythons are know as “lazy” they prefer being in a small place where they feel safe and where the food is brought to them. If you don’t like snakes then great don’t get one. Some people actually have interest in them and they do take care of them. I own many snakes and I have for years! Currently I have a 8ft albino Burmese, and 3 ball pythons. I have never been bit but if I do it’s an animal. Your dog can easily get bothered and bite you. As long as you feed you snake and handle it frequently you shouldn’t have any problems.

    • Walter M. Ellsworth III says:

      I respected you at first. Until you rudely told someone else to go whine somewhere else about this “sensible” ruling. I’m sorry, but you are very ignorant of the state of snake breeding, and the herpeticultural hobby and community. It’s extremely frustrating to see decisions and laws handed down about a hobby you love, by people that know little,to nothing about it. and like I said,just because you don’t have an interest in something, or don’t agree with something, that does not mean you are right. I’m sure there are things you like to do in life that other people do not agree with,or do not like. Now imagine people that know little to nothing about it, trying to take it away from you.

  5. Chris Connelly says:

    Disgraceful decision. To out right ban these amazing species is an over the top knee jerk reaction from people with no knowledge of the animals they are banning.
    I agree legislation should be in place to prevent these species falling on to the wrong hands but an outright ban is unnecessary.
    There will always be a minority of bad keepers and that goes for all animals not just reptiles. It’s unfair to punish those who have spent time and money investing in research and housing for their pets and in many cases businesses due to a minority of bad keepers.
    As for the statement of these animals all being imported in awful conditions that is a joke. Most of the animals in the pet trade at some point will have come from Wild Caught or Wild Farmed( which does have ecological benefits) at the early stages of the hobby. Now though most will have been captive bred for generations.
    This is merely another animal rights over reaction without proper research in to what they are demanding.
    Shocking decision.

  6. Kyle says:

    This act solves absolutely no problems. Furthermore, it may actually cause more owners to release their large snakes into the wild because they face being charged with a crime if they move to another state, because it is often very hard to find a suitable replacement home for their pet if they do. These snakes are still going to be captive-bred in facilities and homes, and sold in all of these states regardless. Prohibiting the cross state transport is only going to effect the economy involved in the reptile trade and the shipping trade, thus crippling the economy even more. In addition, as stated in the comments, dogs have caused many, many more injuries and deaths than these species of snakes ever will. It’s easy to compare the prohibiting of the interstate transport of vending machines which kill more people annually than these species of snakes do. Transporting snakes across state lines has absolutely no effect on people being injured by them, you’re only changing your location…. Transporting them has no effect on the damage of the ecosystem, again, you’re only changing your location (the exception could be the transport of any reptile(s) into southern Florida, which is the only place they will be able to survive and breed in). The direction of the law is completely wrong in every way. A more suitable law would be, the prohibition of importing wild caught snakes. Make a law that punishes people who release the animals, not the people who are simply moving to another state, or the person(s) running a business and trying to make a few bucks from their hobby. This law was passed in complete misunderstanding. Any sensible and logical person would see the errors of this law. “The greatest threat to knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge”

  7. Chris says:

    I know many good people who are sympathetic towards animal rights organizations such as this one. But beware… there is a great deal of nonsense being peddled by them.

    Wayne Pacelle’s blog entry is typical. It is full of emotive language, attempts at fear mongering, false information and wild hyperbole. I urge all intelligent people who love animals to question what he is saying.

    I keep a variety of reptiles myself and know many others who keep, breed and sell them. The picture Pacelle paints may seem vivid and believable, but I can assure you that it is not any remote reflection of the world of reptile keepers. Every single person I know who keeps reptiles loves their animals and is committed to their health and welfare. Sure, there is the odd “bad egg” who gives the rest of us a bad name, but they are a very small minority.
    I would not have an issue with careful regulation and education that targeted the small minority of poor reptile keepers. However, the blanket banning of an increasing number of species on extremely spurious grounds is no solution at all.

    I’ll keep this short, but one last thing which I hear again and again from people who know nothing about reptiles, and which was suggested in the above comments. Reptiles are not like mammals… the majority of species do not need large enclosures. In fact, a large area most often stresses a reptile and this is then manifested in a decline in its health. So please, do not suggest a reptile keeper is lousy because he or she houses their animals in seemingly small spaces, as that is often where they feel most secure and where they are most likely to prosper.

  8. S. Mitchell says:

    This ban will cause a HUGE burden on animal rescues, as people who have to travel a lot (members of the military, for instance), will no longer be able to travel with their beloved pets.

  9. Anthony says:

    This is a dangerous precedent. If for anything, the fact that it is based largely on false science and fear mongering. This is a south Florida problem, resulting in a nationwide ban that will do nothing to: A) stop the possession or breeding of these animals (including in Florida), B) address the issue of accountability in the ownership of these animals, and C) correct the already present issue of large constrictors present currently invasive in south Florida. Anyone who enjoys the presence of a companion animal should be worried about this ruling. There are far more dangerous (as mentioned: dogs, horses), ecologically devastating (cats), and endangered (many species of fish that persist ONLY in captivity, among others) animals common in the trade. Which one will be next on the chopping block? For what reason, and according to whose agenda?

    More than anything, these decisions must be made based on legitimate science and reason, and not as a reaction by people who have no understanding or even a negative bias towards the issue in question. There are implementable, legitimate, and even profitable ways to regulate these animals that would both protect the rights of keepers, and provide accountability in the ownership and well being of the animals. But instead, we get a decision that will push at least a portion of this hobby underground, or result in the deaths or release of a lot of these long-lived animals as people are forced to decide how to proceed when life changes come about where they must move out of state or rehome an animal (made much more difficult when unable to transport it to a potential keeper out of state).

  10. J Smith says:

    As many have pointed out–it’s been a long time since any of these animals have been imported, and most keepers would prefer not to deal with a wild-caught specimen: such snakes are often stressed, ridden with parasites, unwilling to feed and temperamental, and more and more people care about the provenance–that’s a big word grown-ups who use things like logic and science use–of their animals: they don’t want to buy a snake taken out of his jungle and brought to the USA, they want to buy one born here.

    I do not own any of the giant constrictors and have no plans to: they’re not legal to keep in my home state and they’re not my thing. The housing demands and feeding demands are not as much as some might think, but they’re certainly impressive enough–consider that you’re looking at custom housing, not aquaria (in reply to those above who have apparently never seen any of these animals actually kept) and king-sized prey items (rabbits and fowl rather than mice and rats.) That said, this is asinine. I completely understand such a ruling at the state level in Florida given the legitimate, if localized, concerns present there. I would like to see the tropical python that can hack a Northeast winter. (No, they couldn’t hibernate: if snakes could just hibernate to expand their range, then minimally there should be native southern species like indigos and pine snakes breeding here in NY.)

    Make no mistake: the Humane Society of the United States also wants a stop to breeding dogs and cats–if you own and love a golden retriever or a Siamese, don’t look to own another one if Mr. Pacelle and his lobbyists have their way. Just for starters. And most of us who do own snakes? We aren’t the stereotype of bikers and tough guys and you’d never know what we kept to look at us, and the species we do keep are–for the most part–far too small to threaten anything other than a mouse.

    I agree even one life lost to an accident with a large snake is a tragedy, and a preventable tragedy completely traceable to stupid husbandry and ignorance of how to care for an animal. But that argument is poor when used as an excuse to pass legislation. Is it less tragic when a child is bitten in the face by a dog, or crippled by a horse in a riding accident, or when a child is born with a birth defect because Mom was exposed to infection from cat waste? Raw statistics point to these common domestic animals being far more dangerous than snakes. But despite this, I–as not only a proud snake owner, but dog and cat owner and horseman–believe that dogs make great additions to households, cats are good company, and that it’s a privilege to share my mornings with the horse that broke my arm a year ago.

    I would never suggest that the truly large snakes are easy animals to manage compared to some other reptiles (of course, HSUS is against all reptile ownership even if the animals are 100% captive-bred) and personally believe a lot of forethought, financial planning and soul-searching is required before taking up such an animal for the duration of its long life: 25 years or more. (Really, ANY pet.) But the fact remains that I haven’t seen a sound logical argument for declaring them a federal concern, as opposed to state, on the basis of an environmental threat–and if you’re going to say “because they could hurt someone”, then our two biggest buddies (horses and dogs) would face the axe long before any snake or other unconventional pet.

  11. Keith says:

    The constitution doesn’t say a word about the right to keep pythons and anacondas..probably says something about lining the pockets of government officials to pass laws and take away freedoms of the people, but one is still happening and the other is now not. The Lacey Act requires hard scientific data that the species in question is a threat to invade ecosystems, of which they couldn’t provide, and they passed the law on a “feeling” that they could be invasive. Instead of requiring licenses and punishing irresponsible owners, they’re punishing the vast majority that are responsible too.

    I’m not whining about snakes being banned, so your comments there aren’t affecting me. I don’t keep snakes as pets. I just see another freedom Americans had and deserved, bite the dust because Florida didn’t bother to study their own ecosystem and determine what pets to ban for their citizens ahead of time. So then they cry and moan and get help from pet hating, animal slaughtering agencies like HSUS and PETA and their deep pockets thanks to lying for donations as if they really cared about animals at all. It’s a real shame to see people to naive to see through that ploy. If you really want to help animals, all of you just kill yourselves right now, cause there’s nothing more destructive to the planets wildlife than habitat loss due to human development. When these animals go extinct, you’ll realize that the people that have them in cages protecting them from you, are the only ones that really cared to keep them in existence after all.

    • David Bernazani says:

      If you reread Wayne’s blog you will see that the law DOES ban the importation of the snakes.

    • David Bernazani says:

      But that’s the whole point of this ruling: Americans DON’T deserve the “freedom” to “own” these large, dangerous reptiles. They had their chance, and f&$ked it up royally, releasing so many of them in Florida they’ve made the ecosystem a complete disaster. If they had done it right, this discussion wouldn’t be taking place. But now the federal government has to step in, far too late I might add, and try to mitigate any more damage being done.

      • shannon says:

        many of the snakes that were released into southern Florida came from a hatchery that was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. Yes many people released their snakes into the everglades because they weren’t prepared as to how large a species can grow. my son is exceptional at keeping his animals. building the proper size if one grows out of another. they, to him, would be like a family dog or cat. placing this blanket can cause more harm than good actually. people who own a snake like this may have to re-home if they move to a different state. and that new home may not take care of it at all.

      • Tim says:

        I agree with your comments 100% and the humans screwed it up. The snake got to large for the human, so the human screwed up the ecosystem. This Law should of been in effect since 1968.

  12. S. L. Trout says:

    As I expected, this blog has turned out to be a platform for the “reptile folks”. Listen, I’m not opposed to having reptiles as pets but I do think a person is off their rocker wanting to own deadly poisonous snakes and large constrictors. As someone familiar with the incidents tracked by a major wildlife protection agency involving exotic animals, including snakes and lizards, I can tell you that they should NOT be permitted as “pets.” They are wild creatures! It’s shameful that millions of perfectly adoptable dogs, cats, rabbits, etc. are “killed” in our nation’s shelters every year because there are not enough homes for them, yet we have to fight against importation of, and proliferation of wild and dangerous animals as pets. I don’t want to hear your bull$hit about more incidents of dogs biting and killing people than reptiles. I don’t want to hear your deceptive garbage about the HSUS wanting to end the breeding of dogs and cats. If you couldn’t misuse this information, you’d have no basis whatsoever to defend owning dangerous wild creatures. In this area of the pet trade, all it takes IS ‘one bad apple to ruin the whole pie’. Problem is, there are lots of bad apples–people who are driven solely by greed. If we can’t protect and appreciate our wonderful diversity of wild creatures IN THE WILD, then we don’t desever them to begin with.

  13. Vaishali Honawar says:

    Hi, I am the editor of A Humane Nation. Some comments on this blog have been deleted because they are in violation of the commenting policy. Please be respectful of your fellow commenters and be sure to read the policy before you post a comment.

  14. Ashlyn C. says:

    I bet all of y’all that are for this ban never thought about the effect it will have on captive bred snakes. Most reticulated pythons are vibrant coloured, which means very easy prey now. There will be tons of snakes now that can’t go to good homes and will over run states because they can’t be sold. Nor can these captive breds be let loose into the wild because of their vibrant colors they would die from not being able to camouflage themselves. Bet y’all never thought of that. There should be bans on dogs, cats, rats, rabbits, ferrets, birds, and anything else domesticated from the wild and caged. Y’all say its inhumane to cage snakes well then its inhumane to cage rodents and birds. Birds need to fly tree to tree but no one cares about that. Y’all that are for this ban just misunderstand snakes. People are afraid of what they dont understand. If you meet My husband in a dark alley that looks like a criminal with tattoos and buff you’d be scared too but he’s a pastor and a really great man. Same thing with snakes. Ive been bit more by dogs than i have ever been snakes. Id choose a big snake over a dog or cat anyday.

  15. Ryan Parks says:

    “The Constitution doesn’t say a word about the right to possess anacondas or pythons.”
    No, but it *does* say a word about having the right to freedom of movement, which includes citizens traveling from one state to another where an animal is legal to posses within both states. It is unconstitutional that an owner of any of the listed species may be unable to move due to the legal implication that they may not be able to take their animals with them, and either must reconsider said move, or be forced to either kill or otherwise be divested of their animals and become exposed to severe emotional harm.
    In other words, the constitution does not explicitly state that the citizens have the right to own these specific animals, but it doesn’t have to for the regulation approved by the USFWS recently to be logically considered unconstitutional. This listing is, by reason, unconstitutional at the end of the day, and it would be irrational to state otherwise.

  16. Will C says:

    All I’m going to say is I LOVE my reticulated python, and 6ft boa constrictor. This artical is severly misinformed and disgustingly over exahgerated. Snakes of all sizes make GREAT pets for those who understand and can handle their needs.

  17. Shay says:

    Eradicate these disgusting creatures for the US. They are dangerous and not indigenous. People feed them ‘free to good home’ pets.

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