Here's my letter in responce to 'Sneaking up on a Snake' (from the Surrey Leader), it's a little long (775 words) so I haven't sent it in yet.
Inaccuracies in 'Sneaking up on a Snake'
There was an article printed recently in this paper that is very much resented by the snake-keeping community (often referred to as 'herpers'). The article, 'Sneaking up on a Snake', makes numerous irresponsible claims that the 'herpers' object to, claims which will be denounced in this letter.
The first misinformed statement points to pythons as "the second-nastiest snake family in the world". This notion is in it's very essence ridiculous; it is well known that snakes, along with nearly all other cold-blooded animals, respond primary instinctively (without complex thought). I would put forth that an insentient animal couldn’t be reasonably accused of nastiness. That aside there is another objectionable element to this statement; where could the author have possible procured this statistic. I assure there is no properly researched list ranking snakes according to their 'nastiness'. Could the author name the nastiest and third nastiest snake families?
Shortly after this, while preparing to take Curvy's eggs, Mr. Springate makes the warning "One mistake and that could be my last." In order to understand how grossly inaccurate this is you must first understand a small amount of python natural history. Pythons, along with boas and many other snakes, are non-venomous constrictors, meaning that they kill their prey by suffocation rather then venom. There is no snake that kills its prey through a literally bone-crushing squeeze. A bite from even the largest python is no more then a 'boo-boo', to be fixed with a band-aid or a couple stitches. Mr. Springate will certainly not be constricted to death, like outweighing the snake by several dozen pounds and no doubt having some supporting staff at hand. How will this mistake be his last? Perhaps he could slip and fall.
The author also presents the statistic that "Left to hatch and grow in captivity, at least two (of Curvy's eggs) will survive to adulthood." This presents a disgustingly bleak view of captive snake husbandry. While I don't have a more optimistic figure at hand I can say that I currently own an adult Burmese python. This Friday (July 16th) I will obtain three baby ball pythons, all of which I expect to survive to adulthood. I have never had a python die in my care before reaching adulthood. This is a far better track record then 2 adults from 50 eggs, and my success if far from unusual.
This is the fifth clutch of eggs Curvy has laid since coming into the care of the Rainforest Reptile Refuge ten years ago. In order for Curvy to conceive a clutch she must be housed with a male python. Snakes are solitary animals and many, if not all, snake experts recommend housing them separately. When asked privately why the Rainforest Reptile Refuge was practicing such irresponsible practices they responded that Curvy needed companionship. Again, snakes are solitary animals. While they should be commended for their sentiment the Rainforest Reptile Refuge's housing strategies are grossly misinformed.
Mr. Springate goes on to state that "Too many people continue to buy exotic pets, not realizing the commitment reptiles like Curvy require." This is a point where I and I'm sure the majority of snake enthusiasts would agree, not just pythons but the acquisition of any large exotic animal should be carefully considered. There are number smaller snake species available that are perfectly suited for beginners such as corn snakes, king snakes, milk snakes and ball pythons; perhaps a prospective snake owner should gain some experience with them before attempting to keep a larger snake.
Shortly after this Mr. Springate accuses "People should not have these animals. They're not friendly, they're not domesticated, and you cannot tame them." I would strongly disagree here. I am very happy with all my snakes, the largest of which, an adult Burmese python, is quite tame and and has never so much as bit me.
In response to Mr. Springate saying "Curvy's clutch would not face this fate if she was in the wild where she belongs" I would argue that the majority of pythons available today have been bred in captivity for generations and are no more wild than a budgie of a neon tetra.
If you want anymore information on reptiles or their husbandry please contact the WSPCR at email@example.com
or visit their website at www.wspcr.com.
Another wonderful organization is the Fraser Valley Herpetological Society located at www.????????
and contacted at ????????. If you have an unwanted snake either of these organizations could arrange for your animal to go to a responsible, experienced person who will view your snake as more than a "charge", as Mr. Springate referred to them.