As I type my 40th birthday is barely two years away. And I don’t know if it’s my age combined with the times or if it’s the times by themselves but over the past few years I have become keenly aware of a rapidly increasing divide between the people of the United States. I know, I know, every generation laments the passing of the ‘good ol’ days’ and things were always better yesteryear. Time has that sort of scrubbing effect; it distorts the very perception of our own hindsight. But I sense that what is happening now is something more dark and angry. The happy-go-lucky naivety of my youth has passed.
The current state of affairs is that we can break the thinking people in our society into two general groups of people: liberals and conservatives (some people may prefer ‘statist’ and ‘libertarian’).
I am not too unlike you, I suspect. I have received the emails, read the blogs, followed the forum threads and participated in the related chatter. Been there. Done that. And yes, I even got a t-shirt.
Like many of you I have repeatedly railed against the unrelenting stream of assaults on reptile ownership. My passion for my position has, to my knowledge, not swayed a single opponent or politician. As is so often the case parties on opposite sides of a debate are uninterested in truly listening to and understanding the differing view. But that makes sense, doesn’t it?
Ball python enthusiasts often ask others for advice while trying to determine which ball python investment is the best. Unfortunately, questions such as these don’t come with straight answers. The best response is different for each of us and it is only after a bit of self-assessment that any of us can really hope for useful conclusions. In the end the only person from whom you can get a complete answer is yourself. Despite the very best advice from others you ultimately have to figure it out on your own. It’s your motivations that lead toward the best answer. Is it money that moves you? Recognition, perhaps? Or is it the challenge? A sense of accomplishment, maybe? A little bit of each? Knowing the answer will take you closer to making the best decision about which morph is the best investment.
Note: Before reading this you need to know a few things:
– Compared to the average blog post this is long …very long. It’s more like a chapter than a blog post.
– The purpose of this post is not to try and discourage ball python breeders. Quite the opposite, actually. I am enthusiastic about the prospects of this business and I want people who decide to be in it, myself included, to understand the consequences of their choices and adjust their behavior in order to allow an opportunity for profit.
– I am neither an economist nor an accountant. I’m just a guy with a spreadsheet and an opinion; a perspective for your consideration.
Fellow pet owner,
My name is Colin Weaver. I am 37 years old. I am probably a lot like you in that I have had a dog and/or a cat as part of my family for all but a tiny handful of years in my life. My current dog, a 4-year old Weimaraner named Seven, is not just a pet; she is a member of my family. Taking care of her and protecting her is no less a responsibility than taking care of my 3-year old daughter.
In addition to being a dog lover I am also an enthusiastic reptile fan. In particular I have an affinity for pythons. This fact, I suspect, will immediately distance some of you. Pythons are not conventional pets and because pythons are enigmatic they are often feared. Despite their fast-growing popularity, they are on the edge of mainstream pet ownership. It is true that reptiles do not show the same affection toward their owners that dogs and cats do. The opposite, however, is not true. The way you feel about your dog or cat is the way that many feel about their reptiles. For the moment I ask that you not judge the particular animal that some choose to make a part of their lives. For now, just focus on the way you feel about your pets and give credit to reptile owners for feeling the same way about their companions.
In the United States dog ownership is under constant attack. The source of this attack is most commonly the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Volumes have been written on the Internet about their deceptive ways but they continue to be successful in launching attacks against pet owners (and breeders) around the country. I know your frustration regarding this because I feel it, too. Dogs are only one of several targets of the HSUS. Reptile keepers are also struggling with the HSUS’ powerful lobbying skills. At this moment there is a bill in Congress called HR2811 which seeks a nationwide ban on many of the most popular reptiles in the pet community (the Senate version of the bill is called S373). At a recent hearing in the House a team of more than 25 HSUS members were present to forward their efforts to get this bill made into law.
The reasons proposed for this ban are false. They are being sensationalized by the HSUS and this is being compounded by the media. South Florida does have a problem with a population of pythons having established themselves in the Everglades. This problem, which is isolated to extreme South Florida is being used as a point of leverage to ban the ownership of pythons and boas throughout the entire United States. There are two primary points of the HSUS argument:
1.The HSUS and USGS feel that the python might be able to spread north from Florida and establish itself in the lower 1/3 of the United States.
- Because pythons cannot control their own body temperature this is simply not possible. Highly experienced reptile veterinarians with detailed understanding of reptile physiology have testified to this fact. The ecosystem of South Florida is largely unique in the United States. Their ability to spread north from the Everglades is false and being driven by nothing more than the average person’s fear of snakes. Pythons have been kept as pet for not less than 50 years in this country. If they had the ability to establish themselves in other parts of the country, they would likely have done so by now. One of the USGS’ selling points on this matter is that global warming over the next 100 years could allow the snakes to survive further north. Is that what we’re going to do now? Legislate the pet trade on what might happen in the decades to come? Really? Remember the movie Minority Report starring Tom Cruise? In that movie people were arrested and put in prison for crimes they were going to commit in the future. Banning the ownership of snakes because the temperature might change in the future is just as preposterous. That movie sought to teach us a subtle lesson; it appears that it was not learned.
2.Pythons are a public safety issue.
- The HSUS states that pythons kill people and are a risk to public health. This is both fear-driven and false. Of the pets that people choose to keep pythons are one of the least likely to be a danger. Severe injury or death because of a python is incredibly rare. It is estimated that more than 5 million Americans own a reptile, several hundred thousand of which are large pythons and boas. Over the past 30 years there have been a total of 12 deaths attributed to large pythons. While nobody should ever discount the value of a life we have to admit that so few deaths in that many years is hardly justification for pythons being a public safety issue. It is worthy to note that none of those 12 deaths was from a python or boa escaping into the wild and attacking someone. Each of those incidents occurred in the home and each was the result of poor caging and/or improper handling. The simple fact of the matter is that responsible ownership of pythons and boas is not a public health concern.
The pythons in the Everglades is a decidedly Florida problem. Florida Fish and Wildlife has jumped on the bandwagon of this ban because federal legislation means federal dollars. The prospect of getting the entire country to fund Everglades restoration is a compelling motivator. In order to generate support for their desired end-result they have begun actively searching for pythons and when found they parade them about on the evening news. The media, and their love of all things sensational, is glad to feature them.
One of the most recent efforts of the HSUS has been to call for a ban on the Boa Constrictor in addition to several python species (they initially tried to ban all pythons). Suggesting a ban on ‘boa constrictor’ is the same thing as suggesting a ban on all terrier breeds because you feel that pit bulls are a problem. It it absolutely ridiculous. If one of the 15 species of terriers (that’s how many my research showed there to be) was a member of your family how would you feel if they were banned because of a HSUS/media-driven view of pit bulls? I hope you would be as frustrated and angry as the reptile community is right now. Similar to the diversity of terriers, there are literally dozens of different types of boa constrictors and most of them are very small as adults. We are in danger of seeing a huge portion of the pet trade eliminated by this proposed legislation. We are scared. We are angry. And we are frustrated.
Now, here is the point of my letter: The reptile community is not large enough to indefinitely withstand the assault being launched by the HSUS and our current political representation is too new and inexperienced to avoid being blindsided by the clever lobbying skills long-since perfected by the HSUS. The passage of this bill is a very real possibility. Because of this I am asking you to help me and the rest of the reptile community. I need your help. Part of my livelihood and my right to responsibly own the pet of my choosing is in danger of being taken away from me. I need you to defend pet ownership in this country by contacting both your delegate in the House of Representatives and your Senator and tell them you oppose HR2811 (the House bill) and S373 (the Senate version of the bill). I need this help because I believe with all my heart that the only way that pet owners in this country are ever going to be safe against the efforts of organizations like the HSUS is for all of us to work together to protect the rights of all pet owners, regardless of what type of pet it is.
Do this for me. Please. I need your help. Make the call to your House delegate and your Senator and I, in return, make myself available to you when you need help in your fight for your right to have the pet of your choosing. It is past time for the pet owners of this country to come together, to form a collective and work as a unit to oppose the HSUS’ attacks on responsible pet ownership.
To find out who represents you in the House of Representatives, follow this link: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml
To find out who represents you in the Senate, follow this link: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
HR2811 is currently in committee in the House. Here is a list of the committee members: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/committee.xpd?id=HSJU
As of this moment the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) must be on the black list of every single owner of exotic animals in the United States. On this matter I am completely serious.
If you own any type of reptile, amphibian, bird or exotic mammal and you give a single penny of your money to the HSUS you are funding the attack against your own rights as a pet owner. You must stop giving today. But not just any dollars you contribute, you must now become a soldier for your own rights and become an outspoken opponent of the HSUS and work to convince any friends, neighbors, co-workers and relatives who give to HSUS to STOP IMMEDIATELY. The HSUS is dangerous, reckless and the exotic animal community must work to stop them in the best way possible, by tearing away at their funding. Without funding they will no longer be able to spread their message. What message? Simple. They are actively calling for a complete ban on the ownership of all exotic animals in the United States. This is not only about Burmese pythons. Burmese are just the poster-child for their efforts. Here is a link to a post made on July 6, 2009 by the CEO of HSUS in which he calls for the complete ban of exotic animals in the United States.
There are more than 26 million exotic animal owners in the United States. Many of them may be giving money to HSUS and are unaware of the damage they are doing to their own rights in the process. If each of us can convince just a few of those around us to never again contribute to the dangerous agenda of the HSUS we will put an end to their efforts. But you have to participate. You have to act and you have to do it now. It won’t take a lot of your time. Just be prepared to educate the people you meet about the danger of contributing the HSUS.
If you want to give money to organizations that seek to protect the welfare of animals in the United States you need to find one that advocates responsible pet ownership INCLUDING exotic animals.
Yesterday the Orlando Sentinel posted a position piece supporting a nationwide ban on all pythons. At the end of the article you had the option to vote ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ to their position. By mid-afternoon more than 2/3 of repsondants had voted ‘thumbs down’, disagreeing with the article. At that time, the ability to vote was removed from the article. Today, the site is proudly reporting that 95.1% of respondents AGREED with their article. Don King would call that a ‘falsitude’.
For the whole story, please read this post by my buddy Adam over at nohr669.com. He breaks it down and has the screen shots to prove it!
I often lament the danger the media poses to the reptile community (amongst other things). The audacity of the lie that is apparently being told by the Orlando Sentinel is another powerful example of a news source fabricating the truth in an effort to further their own agenda.
If you are a reptile owner and are growing sick of the ridiculous way in which reptiles are being portrayed by the media, please take a moment to contact the editors of the Orlando Sentinel and tell them that you are aware of this deceit and request they post a retraction.
In February 2008 the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a map showing the possible range of the burmese python in the southern United States. The maps shows Burmese pythons extending as for north as Virgnia on the east coast (and all the way to west to California). Being a resident of southeast Virginia for the past 15 years I can tell you without reservation that this is absolutely ridiculous. The map and the report submitted to support it are false. They are driven by fear and special interest motivations to end the reptile pet trade in the United States.
It vexes me how this type of false science is allowed to be released under the banner of a supposedly legitimate scientific organization. Doing so decreases the credibility of their legitimate works. Hey USGS, here’s a little nugget of information for you: the United States is a temperate region. That means we have something called seasons. Yeah, it’s warm enough to support an escaped Burmese python in the summer but the fall and winter will kill them faster than any Python Recovery Team you might want to assemble. Burmese pythons are from Southeast Asia (vast portions of which are a tropical region) and according to the book The Physical Geography of Southeast Asia, (screen shot here) annual temperature range in southeast asia is small, not more than 5 degrees (C) annually. Click here for a graph that shows annual temperatures in Vietnam (southeast Asia). That means that the same summer climate that supports Burmese in their native habitat is pretty much an all year thing, kind of like it is in the Florida Everglades. Take a quick drive north on I-95 to northern Florida and you’ll notice that it gets very cold in the winter. And guess what! Cold weather and snakes don’t go together. Every single reptile that lives on the east coast north of the florida everglades brumates to pass the winter; all of them. Guess what? Burmese pythons don’t brumate in cold weather. Know what they do? They die. Anybody who has ever kept Burmese pythons knows that they will get a sick at the drop of a hat. Keep your temps a little bit wrong and they will be hacking snot all over the glass of their locked enclosures.
I am disappointed in the USGS and the people who will let them submit falsehood as truth. The USGS slogan reads, “Science for a Changing World”. It should read, “Science for Changing the World”.