Reptiles as Captives

Captive means ‘kept in confinement or under restrain, not being able to escape’

Reptiles are not Pets and should not be looked at as one.

The fascination of reptiles is intriguing and fascinating to many people, reptiles in the pet trade is growing rapidly on every continent. Reptiles are being shipped everywhere whether on the black market or legit importers. Reptiles come in all shades of color, sizes and textures. You can buy a highly venomous reptile from a trader or an endangered species at any price. The rarer the reptile is the higher the price is going to be.

My outlook on this is simple; if we stick to the basics we will enjoy the captive for a pretty long time. Obtaining a reptile should be something well thought through. The rewards of keeping reptiles are very minimal though, it is not like a dog you can play fetch or a cat that you can sit and stroke. Yet these reptiles are in such demand that many breeders now keep waiting lists.

The problem of keeping reptiles as captives is that man has put a price to the reptile and this is where the rewards come in. I have many stories to tell about humans obtaining their captives and thinking they going to make good and loads of money. The keeping of reptiles is so misunderstood and with money behind the objection of keeping them is going to turn out for the worst and at the end of it all the reptile suffers the most.

When we humans have not done our research before obtaining a captive and the captive becomes too big, food bill rises and rewards are not there, they just go ahead and release the animal in the closest bushy area whether or not it belongs there, they think it’s just a reptile and it will find its way. This is worrying as most captives are exotic and the release of these exotics can play a negative role on the indigenous fauna and flora. That’s just common sense but common sense does not play an important role when feeding a 3.5m reptile. It is expensive to feed and heavy to handle. Sometimes they can be snappy and a bite from a large reptile is painful.

One of the more disturbing things that are happening in and around the world is hybridization. As reptiles are saturated in the market place the next best thing to us is crossing one species of reptile to another species. Many people think this is fine as long as this hybrid reptile remains in captivity and many people oppose this sort of unnatural breeding of reptiles. The decision remains with us, do we entertain this type of endeavor or do we stop supporting this kind of breeding? As long as people keep obtaining these unnatural species the breeders will have reason to carry on breeding these hybrid reptiles and of course try new hybrids on different species.

The selling of venomous reptiles in the pet trade is also concerning. Anyone can go and obtain a venomous reptile regardless of age or experience. Venomous reptiles are being sold to minors as well yet we have to be of certain age to obtain a weapon. A venomous reptile in captivity is fully loaded with venom and bite can have a negative effect on the family or community around them. Anti-venom is very expensive and hospital fees are just as high. There is nothing macho or elite when keeping these dangerous captives as accidents happen quicker than a blink of an eye. The reptile comes off second best and pushed aside, given away quickly and many times just killed as it is now too dangerous to keep. Had they not thought that through before even considering going to the closest pet shop to choose their ever so cute deadly reptile? There is nothing cute about a venomous baby reptile, it is fully loaded and a mistake from a human can mean the death of the reptile.

In my understanding an endangered or threatened species should be under protection and breeding projects should be in place to reintroduce new blood into the system. The system can be a reserve where they originally come from and to repopulate this species. I go into forums and classifieds around the world and endangered reptiles are being sold openly as ‘pets’. Even though there is a hand full of these left in the wild where they come from, people are still going out there and collecting these reptiles and exporting them in big shipments so they are just a number in a box and not a particular species and getting away with this.

There is no point in arguing if reptiles should be kept in captivity as people will keep them regardless. Our aim is to educate as many people about reptiles and teach them the correct way in basic husbandry. Doing research about a particular reptile should be none negotiable, forums is not the way to go as that is a personal opinion from a keeper. Understanding a particular species we should know: where it comes from, nocturnal or diurnal, carnivore or herbivore, climate conditions, size of reptile, tropical or desert. This should be basic foundations before considering obtaining a reptile or any animal as a matter of fact. Or are we relying on the person selling the reptile to tell us what to expect?

Whether we release an exotic into the wild or hybridize a species or sell a dangerous animal to a minor or trade in endangered species us humans are accountable for that. Whether or not the minority is in it for the good nature of it or majority that just does not care, reptiles have a place in the circle of life. Whether the circle of life is threatened by global warming or a species that is under threat, we need to take the responsibility upon ourselves to make sure that we keep things in balance. We humans are the ones destroying the planet and if we can all realize and accept that, only then can we make a difference to save this planet.

Juan

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