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Posted by Rob Carmichael on April 22, 2003 at 06:48:14:
In Reply to: But this is not due to overpopulation, don't you see? posted by BrianSmith on April 21, 2003 at 15:52:55:
Brian, I hear what you are saying, but our wildlife center is NOT a regional facility; 80-90% of the burms that come our way are in our immediate area (this doesn't even include the Chicago area)....that is a LOT of burms being abadoned in a relatively small geographic area. If you throw in Chicago alone, that number probably quadruples. If you control populations, you control the problem; it is really that simple in my opinion and I realize that for folks who make a living breeding burms/retics/etc. that may come off as a slap in the face, however, unlike people like you who are responsible, most breeders are completely unaware of what happens to their burms after they are shipped...I'll tell you where they go. They are pampered and cuddled for the first year or two until they reach the magical 8-10' mark. It is then that most burm owners quickly realize that they may have made a big mistake. They become uncomfortable having a large constrictor under the same roof as their kids/etc. The snake then stops being held and interacted with (other than to toss in a rat or rabbit every now and then). Their health declines and once they become too big, they just try to dump them off with another house to start the cycle over (and most of these people I deal with are very well intentioned people who feel horribly for what they are doing). Recently, a friend of mine rescued a 19' albino burm that had been kept in a trailor home STUFFED in a 75 gallon tank....try to think of that! This may be extreme but it happens more often than people care to imagine. Is is a population problem or a bad owner problem...both! There are too many burms and not enough good homes for them. So, if we cut the numbers being produced, we get closer to finding an equilibrium where the numbers of captively produced burms equals the numbers of suitable homes for them. If there were more responsible breeders like yourself who ensured customers that you would take back any burm that became unmanageable, we could reduce the problem. Unfortunately, for every good person like yourself, there are just as many unscrupulous folks who are just out to make a quick buck. Also, for every good home that you find for your burm, there are countless of bad homes that are buying burms...there just aren't enough responsible and capable people who can realistically care for a giant snake like a burm. So, in my very humble opinion, I feel that there are too many burms on the market to keep up with the very few good homes that are available for these burms. Depending on how you look at it, we either have too many burms or not enough good homes; either way, this is a real problem that has only scratched the surface.
:This abandoned burmese problem isn't due to too many burmese being produced. It is due to irresponsible owners. You say you only take in 50 per year from your city/area. Heck man,. that's only the equivalent of a single clutch. So by the arguments that this is due to overpopulation of burms then just one fewer clutch of eggs in your region would have solved that. Obviously this would not be the case. I think that those same kids or owners would have gotten them elsewhere or another breed and would have ended up doing the same thing in the end. I think that there are probably thousands of burms hatched out in every considerably-sized city each year and I also think that many of those end up in decent homes with owners that take good care of them and love them. I hate to say this, but my common sense tells me that the vast majority of the rest die due to poor care or mishap. And then a small percentage of them become abandoned and subsequently have to be rescued. While this troubles me greatly, I don't feel that this is strictly due to there being too many burmese produced. At the same time I am all for fewer numbers of normals and ZERO importation. But I think that there will be the problem regardless of how many are produced (to a reasonable point, of course). And I don't feel that every decent herper should have to pay a severe price for the actions and irresponsibilities of the neglectful minority herper that mistreats or abandons their snakes. It just wouldn't be fair. I for one, as a breeder, make sure that my offspring only go to responsible good homes and will take the snake back in the event that the person cannot care for it any longer. I wish other breeders would do something similar. I feel that only things like this can lead to a solution to this problem.
:One last related note, I have to strongly disagree about the statement that high end morphs are or will be as abandoned as normal burmese. I know many people in So Cal connected with several different rescues and in the last year the only morphs that were rescues were two caramel ball pythons and one green burmese male. (I don't lump reg albino burms in the morph catagory as they are widely considered as regular burms. And even then there were only a few of these) All three of these morph rescues were instantly in demand and there was an anxious waiting list of folks waiting to adopt them at a greater adoption rate. So even if a few morphs do slip through, they are instantly snatched up by competant keepers. At least in So Cal. I can't speak for anywhere else and would be very interested to read stats about other areas if it is at all different. But Rob, you let me know the next time you get in an abandoned purple phase albino retic and I will personally fly out to pick it up. ;)
::I can ONLY speak from personal and professional experience I have in directing a very successful wildlife center (that features many GIANT herps). When, year after year, you continue to receive phone calls from private individuals, animal control, dnr, conservation police officers, herp societies, etc. to take in unwanted burms (and other large constrictors/herps) I have come to realize that it doesn't matter whether it is a run of the mill albino, labyrinth, green albino, or any of the hot new morphs; at some point, most burms will become abandoned. We alone take in between 20-50 burms each year...a very sad statistic indeed. Why? Because they just simply don't make good pets for the 99% of people who would like to keep one. This isn't meant to bash anyone on this forum. I'd like to see how many of the people who currently keep burms will still have those burms 20 years from now. Regulations, I believe, will be VERY important to allow the responsible people to keep their animals legally....but, most agencies don't want the burden to oversee this process due to costs (even with a permit fee in place). So where do you start? I personally no longer breed burmese pythons (of any type) because I truly feel that this just compounds the problem. When a large female pumps out 40-60 eggs you have a lot of future abandoned burms in my opinion who will receive substandard care. Pessimistic viewpoint? Perhaps, but this is just the reality of having been in the business for many years and seing so many beautiful burms get dumped just because the keeper no longer can handle this responsibility. With so many beautiful smaller species of pythons, that is where our focus should be. There are some on this forum who I highly respect AND breed burms AND who will disagree with me...are they wrong for breeding? Of course not, this is just my personal opinion.
:::Against the idea of it?Is it just the "normal" and 'Albino" burms that people dont want to get bred?I know there seems to be alot of them showing up in rescues and everything but telling people to stop breeding them isnt going to help.If thats the case you might as well tell all these major breeders that breed the morphs of burms to quit breeding them altogether.They would laugh at you in a heartbeat.Its their livelihood to breed these snakes just like its everybody elses to breed boas,anacondas,retics (here lately alot of retics),carpets,bloods,etc.You wouldnt tell them to quit breeding them beautiful animals so why stop breeding burms?
::: The only way concievable to fix the problem isnt to stop breeding but to do some kind of system to regulate who gets them.Not everyone deserves a burm and not everyone deserves animals period but they get them and will keep getting them until we as herpers figure out some way of making it nearly impossible for every tom,dick,or harry to get one.I have 4 burms and 2 retics and wouldnt trade them or give them up for the world.On the downside most people dont think like me and its sad to see all these majestic animals getting the shaft. Regards Bill McLeod