Biologist Slams Exotic ‘Pet’ Trade

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2 min read

In an essay published this week in the Orlando Sentinel, reptile specialist Clifford Warwick—who has assisted PETA with several cases, including our investigation into the notorious exotic-animal dealer U.S. Global Exotics—spoke out about the abuse and neglect that is inherent in the exotic “pet” trade:

Last week, a Brazilian man was caught trying to smuggle 27 snakes wrapped in nylon hose and stashed inside stereo speakers, checked as luggage, at Orlando International Airport. He allegedly admitted that he planned to breed them for the pet trade.

Days earlier, a 17.5-foot-long Burmese python was captured in the Everglades, probably at one time a pet [who] had been dumped or escaped.

In July, a baby in Illinois was found with a python — believed to be a neighbor’s escaped pet — biting and contracting around his foot as he slept in his crib. . . .

Unfortunately, in my experience with human and animal health, as well as wider issues of ecology, species conservation and even economics, harm is inherent and almost universal in exotic pet keeping. What is abnormal, derided and a prosecutable abuse of a dog, such as keeping him or her almost constantly locked up in a small kennel, is normal “care” for an exotic pet, whose life will almost certainly be spent in a wooden and glass box, wire cage or aquarium.

Ironically, if exotic-pet keepers saw a small dog or a cat imprisoned in a fish tank with a light bulb for warmth and some crickets as food, then they, too, would recognize the outrageous dearth of even basic humane provisions and view the treatment and the animal’s life as nothing less than abusive and cruel. …

Most reptile keepers I know are passionate about their hobby, but their level of biological knowledge is, frankly, appalling. …

It is predictable, then, that what follows is animal stress, disease and death; a recent scientific analysis conducted in the U.K. shows that three-quarters of all pet reptiles die in their first year in the home — and that excludes the heavy trade-related losses that are known to be around 70 percent within just six weeks. . . .

Almost weekly now, independent scientific and medical evidence is emerging that reveals the depth of the problems associated with exotic pet trading and keeping. Based on the evidence, communities around the world are realizing that the only meaningful action is to ban the commercial trade and, in some cases, also keeping. …

[P]ublic health and safety, animal welfare and species and environmental protection easily outweigh the habit of keeping wild animals where they do not belong, do not thrive and, more often than not, die prematurely and badly.

Via the Orlando Sentinel 

Written by Clifford Warwick

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