I've worked in two different pet stores and yes, what goes on behind closed doors is even worse than what you see on display. Absolutely sickening. In both stores, I was the best employee they had and got paid practically nothing. In one of the stores, boys doing summer jobs got paid more than I did. One of them--the so-called herp "expert"--would disappear for hours at a time, leaving me to clean all the enclosures.
I'm telling you this because this is the reason why pet stores are so bad: untrained, uncaring, underpaid staff.
The things I've seen...*shudder*
In one of the pet stores, a maroon-bellied conure lived permanently in the back room because he had a broken or dislocated leg. The owner told me crossly, "Just snap it back into place!" I tried to, but I think the leg was too damaged. The owner was too cheap to take the bird to the vet.
I had to play veterinarian with no training in both stores. I had to euthanize animals. I even had to amputate a cockatiel's leg (no anesthesia). That one makes me tear up every time I think about it. The owners were too cheap to take the bird to the vet, but without an amputation, the bird would have died.
Once, a lady customer noticed a rat was having babies and suggested we move her and the babies to a separate cage to prevent the other rats from harming them. The manager, Barbara, tactlessly informed the customer that we had "too many" rats and that if the other rats in the cage ate the babies, that was fine by her. The customer was outraged. Righteously so!
I went to the back to prepare a separate cage for the mother rat and her babies. The manager came back there and bawled me out for doing so without her permission.
When she saw that the customer wanted to purchase the mother rat and her babies, Barbara tried to charge her for every single one, even though she had been willing to let them die moments before!
I took a long lunch that day, crying in my car. I was only eighteen years old at the time and it was my first real job. I've learned since that a lot of people can be complete @$$holes.
I realize that the kids at the pet store you mentioned might be the children of the owner, but there's another truth I learned while working at pet stores: parents expect you to babysit their children for them. They drop the kids off at the pet store, then go do their own shopping. As you can imagine, this makes for some horrible disasters: kids harming animals; animals harming kids. Sick. I don't think I can even count the number of parrot bites.
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1.1 Arizona mountain kingsnakes (Chris Baubel and Gerold Merker)
1.1 Louisiana milksnakes (John Yurkovich)
1.2 Okeetee corns (Kathy Love)
1.1 albino Okeetee corns (Kathy Love)
1.0 hypo crimson corn (Kathy Love)
0.1 hypo corn / het for ghost (Kathy Love)
1.0 double-yellowheaded Amazon parrot