If You Sell It, They Will Come

This week the US Geological Survey issued its much-anticipated report Giant Constrictors assessing the impact of 9 “giant” snake species on the country’s “ecology, economy, and domestic tranquility.”

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize a 200 pound reticulated python (or anaconda, burmese python, afrock, etc.) can seriously f#$% up the average voting citizen’s domestic tranquility.  It likewise doesn’t take 323 pages to know South Florida is perfect habitat for jungle reptiles.  The report includes boa constrictors, an unfortunate necessity because of how the reptile lobby has approached the issue of self-regulation.  For years, they refused to do it.  They sold tens of thousands of giant pythons to kids.  After the death of a Florida boy increased focus on the Burmese pythons in the Everglades, they said regulate only what you can prove is invasive.  Until this report that answer was Burmese pythons.  Every significant python dealer knows there is a long-established population of boa constrictors in Florida.  Boas can make pretty cool pets.  But by daring the government to prove which snakes are invasive the giant reptile lobby put the boa constrictor next on the chopping block. 

There is alot USARK, PIJAC and others can do (and have done) to educate regulators and the public on the virtues of a reptile hobby.  But following instead of leading is not how to do it.  The motive behind all the python attention is not simply reducing an invasive threat to the environment (It it were, the media and the government would be focused on feral cats.).  By pretending giant reptiles aren’t a problem–both biologic and psychological, by insisting on USGS proof before undertaking the obvious, by selling without limit, some of the leading reptile dealers in the U.S. are slowly constricting the hobby to death.  If you have a leopard gecko or a corn snake, you may one day thank giant python dealers the day they come to take it.

Well, this turned into a rant and sorry for undertaking it.  If there were one voice out there articulating an honest and balanced view on this subject I’d be quiet as a serpent.

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