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a point I would like to make ...

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Posted by: pinstripe15 at Sun Jun 27 16:07:26 2010  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by pinstripe15 ]  
   

I have a point I would like to make regarding herpetoculture. In defending against the arguments of anti-exotic politicians, we often say that breeding reptiles in captivity is one way to prevent the extinction of these animals. Since reptiles are disappearing across the planet, this is a very penetrating statement for someone who wants to conserve nature.

But is this really what we are doing? Let's look at the ball python, for example. Python regius has been bred en masse for decades, and this popularity has been fueled by the "production" of some very striking morphs, including albinos and leucistics. However, any biologist will tell you that such creatures cannot survive in the wild. Albinos can hardly be exposed to sunlight, or their health is threatened. Other morphs create problems as well; how on earth could a lavender ball python avoid detection by predators if its camouflage has been stripped away? Since many of these traits are recessive, the pythons' offspring wouldn't be any better off, though whether such an animal would live long enough to breed is debatable.

What I am saying is, if ball pythons were to become critically endangered in the wild, how could captive-bred individuals serve the wild populations if the vast majority of them were unable to survive in the wild? A reintroducing program would certainly be a dramatic failure if all of the captive pythons were genetically anomalous.

So is the captive breeding of such species as the ball python, corn snake, king snake, bearded dragon, and leopard gecko really giving us a reservoir of specimens in case wild populations were to become endangered? It would appear not. My point is this: perhaps it is unwise to continually be trying to "engineer" oddball reptiles simply because they are more visually pleasing to someone who cannot appreciate reptiles otherwise. Instead, why not concentrate on exploring "normal" animals for all their ordinary glory? Is a normal ball python really all that bad? And when the wolves come knocking at our doors with things like HR 669, can we really say that professional breeders are aiding conservation?

Best regards,
Pinstripe


   

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