Join Date: Jun-2003
Location: Calgary, AB
Here's my letter:
I am writing this in response to your grossly misinformed and biased article titled "Sneaking up on a Snake", which was published in a one-sided and rather un-jounalistic manner.
The article was written using information provided by one of the most misinformed people in the reptile community, an individual known for being anti-reptile despite his facade of running a reptile "shelter". Specifically I would like to draw attention to these points:
Pythons are inaccurately referred to as the "second nastiest snake family in the world." This is not only unfounded, but untrue. Some species such as the African Rock python, though certainly more prone to defensive behavior, are an exception, rather than a rule with pythons. Other species such as ball pythons, burmese pythons, spotted pythons, woma pythons, and many more, are known for their calm and remarkably inoffensive dispositions. Of the species I mentioned above, only the Burmese python has a size comparable to the African Rock, but its disposition is CONSIDERABLY different. So as you see, singling out a whole family of snakes just based on one species is ignorant and irresponsible.
Furthermore, Mr. Springate states that "one mistake could be my last". I have never in my entire life seen a more grossly inaccurate statement. African Rock pythons are constrictors. They do not kill by envenomation, and at only 125 lbs, Mr. Springate, unless he voluntarily submitted his will to the snake, would easily be able to make it out of an attack with his life. Statements such as these paint these snakes up to be more terrifying than tiger sharks, when in actuality, their threat is minimal if a reptile keeper is responsible and informed, which it seems that Mr. Springate is not.
The article also states "Snakes like Curvy typically lay between 30 and 50 eggs. Left to hatch and grow in captivity, at least two will survive to adulthood." This grim statement makes it seem as though reptiles bred in captivity have little to no chance of survival, which is exactly the perception that Mr. Springate is trying to achieve. By painting a bleak outlook for the babies, he furthers his goal of having reptiles banned for "humane reasons". However, this statement is outright foolish. As a member of the reptile breeding comminity, I can assure you that less than a 95% hatch rate of fertile eggs in captivity is exceptionally rare, even when 40 or more eggs have been laid. Captive breeding has saved millions of snakes from being pillaged from the wild, and the snakes reared in captivity live full and complete lives.
I submit to you also that reptiles are solitary creatures. Anyone who has ever watched an EDUCATED reptile show on the Discovery channel can tell you this. Snakes do NOT need companionship. The fact that this is Curvy's fifth clutch of eggs is absolute proof of the irresponsible practices of the Rainforest Reptile Refuge (the 'RRR') and Mr. Springate. If you house two adult specimens of any species together for any length of time, THEY WILL BREED. It is a simple fact of nature. The RRR is using petty excuses for housing the two together such as a need for companionship, which any informed herpetoculturist or herpetologist will tell you, is absolutely false.
The RRR is guilty of more inhumane practices than ANYONE in the reptile keeping or breeding community, and this article proves how irresponsible and uninformed he is.
I would like to conclude by adding that snakes in captivity CAN and DO become quite tame. Like any other animal, they perceive the unknown as a threat. Some snakes react to this immediately, but this is defensive, rather than aggressive behavior. Humanely working with these animals, and getting them used to being in contact with humans, has been proven repeatedly to be able to tame even the 'meanest' of snake species.
I am a resident of Alberta, but I speak on behalf of the entire reptile community when I tell you that this article is digusting, and does nothing but promote lies and falsehoods about reptiles. I suggest in the future that you hear the other side of the story from people who are pro-reptile before you publish this drivel again.
- Ken LePage