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The Fault of Lazy Pet Owners?!?!

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Posted by: WALL2WALLREPTILE at Mon Apr 19 18:55:38 2010  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by WALL2WALLREPTILE ]  

(I posted this on the Ball Python forum and was asked to also post it on the Boa forum....didn't want to leave the Burmese people out. lol.)

The interesting thing about the Florida Problem...

There is a Burmese Python population in the Everglades...(at least there still was until before this last winter)....but we have solid evidence, based on country-of-origin import records and DNA samples, which disproves the theory of "irresponsible pet owners" releasing these snakes into the Everglades.
The feral population of Burmese Pythons was a product of hurricane Andrew. It was NOT caused by careless keepers.
Yet the media continues to chant that tired, old (false) mantra.
The general public needs to know the facts.

Another interesting study was conducted by prominent a Herpetologist and Professor at CU, Dr. David Chizar. In 1995 I listened to Dr. Chizar's presentation of this study, while attending the International Herpetological Symposium.

This study looked at the feasibility of re-introducing captive bred "head started" Aruba Island Rattlesnakes (C. unicolor) to their NATIVE habitat, within an area set aside as a wildlife reserve.

They ran into some interesting data.
Comparing the "head started" captive bred snakes with wild snakes they found that the "head started" snakes essentially had "imprinting" problems. They would not be suited to survive in wild. These "head started" snakes lacked the skills needed to survive in their natural environment.

Wild Caught snakes reacted correctly to stimuli:
They sought refuge of heavy piles of rock or similar shelter when faced with a potential predator. (Such as a human or a dog.)

"Head Started" snakes would often associate humans with they were used to receiving feedings from humans.
Inside the cage they would often witness the “head-started” c.b. snakes rubbing their faces on the glass in anticipation of feeding when these snakes saw humans.....or even when they saw Dr.Chizar's dog!
(Chizar often had his dog in the lab during the evening feeding sessions....and the snakes would associate human or canine presence with the offering of food items.)

I have also witnessed this face-on-the-glass-rubbing in several species of snakes including Elapids, Pythons, Boas, several Colubrid species and also Crotalus species. We often refer to this activity as "begging".

Wild snakes were able to effectively track their prey items after the bite.
C.B. head-started snakes performed very poorly at this task. They often failed altogether.

Dr. Chizar did a tongue flicks per minute study while the snakes were tracking their prey items.
The wild caught snakes scored off the chart...and rarely if ever got off course while tracking.
The “head-started” snakes scored poorly with low tongue flicks per minute and often got off track....sometimes they were unable to complete the task.

Head-Started snakes have a greater chance of being introduced to (and infected with) fatal reptilian diseases, while in captivity. This further diminishes their chances of surviving in the wild after re-introduction. It also opens more possibilities of spreading diseases to the wild populations.

One cannot help but draw similarities in the data this study revealed to a similar "Recovery Project" which was aimed at the re-introduction of Thick Billed Parrots to Arizona back in the early 80‘s.
Adult birds were selected as the best possible breeding stock... from some of the nations top bird breeders....this was also to provide genetic diversity within the new population of "recovery subjects".
The birds were banded and tracked.
Every single bird died. The project was an epic failure.
These birds lacked the essential skills needed to thrive in the wild. They were dependent on humans for skills that they were not able to learn from their avian parents. They could not contend with natural predators of the wild.

The vast majority of Burmese Pythons in captivity... were hatched in captivity.
These Pet Burmese Pythons do not have the skills needed to survive in the wild. Escaped pet Burmese Pythons....or even Burmese Pythons "purportedly released" would be lucky to survive past the one year mark, outside of the captive environment.

The Burmese Pythons which inhabit the Everglades National Park
were introduced as hatchling imports. A group of 900 babies that were not yet imprinted to human care or captive conditions.
During Hurricane Andrew these snakes escaped because of the destruction of a wholesale facility near the Everglades National Park. It was the result of a natural disaster which introduced these snakes to the Everglades....It was not the act of irresponsible pet owners or reptile keepers.

So....lets do a little rough math here.
Statistically speaking, 1 Out of 100 hatchling snakes will survive natural predation, human interaction, disease etc. to mature as a breeding adult.
This 1/100th reduction in population leaves you with an animal that has gained a lifetime of the necessary skills for survival in the wild.

Out of 900 snakes that would leave us with 9 surviving adults.
But lets be reasonable here...give them a bonus...lets say that 12 Burmese Pythons out of that group of 900 survive to reach adult breeder age/size.
Now, figure that half of them are males and half are females.
That leaves us with 6 breeder Female Burmese Pythons to start our Everglades Feral Colony.

Above "rough math" is just hypothetical....
Want to know the facts?

Using DNA samples researchers were able to trace the Everglades population back to 5 founding females...all of them were of Vietnam origin.
Import documents reflect that the "Hurricane Andrew 900 Hatchling Burmese"....originated guessed it….. Vietnam.

These introduced snakes were not the result of careless pet owners...they were introduced because of a natural disaster.

Animal Rights Extremists love to perpetuate (and encourage the Media to perpetuate) this finger pointing blame game.
They point to animal keepers as the problem... basically labeling reptile keepers as irresponsible and careless slobs.
This is both unjust and untrue.
As the Media continues to chant the Animal Extremist Mantra, irresponsible, uninformed politicians draft new bills that essentially punish a Nation of people for a relatively minor problem that only exists in the Southern TIP of ONE STATE. A problem that our natural climatic patterns almost solved this last winter! It is a problem that pet owners, business owners and hobbyists did not cause.

I encourage everyone to stand up and be counted.
Follow the USARK guidelines and submit your public comment.
Let other people know what is really happening.
Encourage others to help protect the rights we currently have.



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  • You Are HereThe Fault of Lazy Pet Owners?!?! - WALL2WALLREPTILE, Mon Apr 19 18:55:38 2010

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