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Posted by Rob Carmichael on April 23, 2003 at 06:51:38:
In Reply to: Thanks Rob, your kind words are not lost on me,(sorry, LONG) posted by BrianSmith on April 22, 2003 at 15:16:14:
Brian, you raise some good points. I think this issue is VERY complex and there are many variables and factors that contribute to the problem: market value, #'s of burms flooding the market, lack of responsible owners versus the number of improperly prepared owners ready to buy a burm, pet stores selling burms w/out giving good, sound husbandry advice, state laws/restrictions, purchasing inferior wild caught burms, and on and on. No one factor in and of itself is the problem. Sure, would could just ban the keeping of burms and not allow them to be sold in any way, shape or form, however, that is NOT a solution and will only promote more irresponsible and illegal ownership. It will be interesting to see if we are still debating this issue ten years from now.
:As always I appreciate the credit you send my way. Yes I do care very much about each and every snake I am responsible to find a good home for, regardless of it's market value. It can be a very time consuming task at times, but there is nothing worse to me than the knowledge that something I did resulted in the death of an animal I am responsible for. I also won't sell a snake until after it has had it's third meal and has a decent body weight built up. But enough about that.
: I am about to do a 180 on this overpopulation theory. Not due to any specific argument I have read but a realization that I had that is so simple I am surprised I overlooked the obviousness of it. The immense number of burmese in and of itself is not "directly" responsible for the inevitable neglect and abandonment of the vast majority of the surviving adults. No. It is the indirect effect the sheer numbers have on the market value. Due to the vast numbers the market value has dropped to as low as 25 bucks for a juvenile burmese. This has shuffled it into a much more affordable and thus *expendable* catagory or status. It seems obvious to me that due to this reduced market value that any regular joe with a sudden whim can afford one. This same "regular joe" would not likely purchase the snake if it was $250 or more. And I feel that this is the underlying problem. To top it all off there still exists importation of this species. This ridiculous fact blows my mind! But still,.. back to overall value and the resulting future of the animals: Again,.. what I breed,.. all I breed (in burmese, retics, and rocks), is the more expensive and rare morphs. The only other species' I breed are the ones that are not so plentiful. The only exception to this general rule of thumb is that each year I allow two to three female colombians to breed. Even though I have over a dozen mature females, once a couple are gravid, that's it, the rest are not bred. Why? I realize there are way too many boas and that there are a lot of once sick ones that could be adopted from rescues. And I think that's great. But I just want what someone gets from me to be 100% healthy and problem-free. And the reason for regular, really cheap colombians,... for those few good homes that don't have a lot of money but can still provide a decent home for a pet reptile. Suprisingly, this is not infrequent. Other than that exception and the breeding of a dozen or so other low end, yet still somewhat "scarce breed" exceptions, all I breed is high end morphs. I only began investing in this endeavor in 2001 and have yet to fully explode on the market. Many of the morphs I have are just going to breed for the first time this coming season. Some may have to wait for 2004. Sure, part of this is to make a decent living. I won't deny that. But the most important reason for this is to produce animals that are not in the expendable catagory. Let's face it, I could easily be running regular burms and retics and be making numerous hets for this or for that for an enormous chunk of extra cash each year. But I don't. And I won't. One thing is 100% certain and that is that the value of the dollar will never exceed the value of the lives of these wonderful reptiles to me.
: Sorry for the overly long post. Some things just can't be summed up in few words.
::Brian hit it on the head....to do this procedure on a large constrictor will COST a LOT of money; in fact, most facilities (our's included) would simply stop taking in burms if it came to that (even though I personally think it is a great idea)...we simply cannot afford to do this with every burm/large constrictor that comes our way (I'd be looking for a new job in a hurry!)....we already are spending a ton of money just to get most of these burms back into good health. So, until we find a way to make this cost effective, we will continue to have problems.
::As a follow up to Brian's post below (about Brian's position that the problem isn't about overpopulation of burms in captivity): BTW....it is very refreshing that we can actually debate/discuss a potentially heated topic without the usual bashing and uneducated responses we typically see...kudos to everyone!
::Here was my response to a post below (that may have been buried):
::Brian, I hear what you are saying about the issue that the problem isn't about overpopulation of captive burms, 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. The stat that would be VERY interesting to me is to see just how many burms, among all of the breeders, are being produced today in the U.S. and compare that with the available data that we have in terms of how many burms become abandoned or up for adoption across the U.S....that would be a tough stat to find. 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 doesn't mean that I am against the ownership of large constrictors....quite the contrary! I am ALL for private ownership of large constrictors, AS LONG AS PEOPLE ARE MATURE, COMMITTED, DEDICATED, RESPONSIBLE, and have the resources to properly care for these giant reptiles.
:::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.
:::I have thought of this before myself. I don't know how feasible it would be. I have never taken the time to research the pros and cons of it before. But here's what little I do know: Reptiles are generally harder to euthanize and I have read that they are more prone to dying as a result than mammals. Also, their scales and "skin" would be a lot more difficult to stitch or seal an incision should a invasory surgery be required for "fixing" them. And lastly, it would likely cost a LOT of doe-rae-me to pay for it and most of the rescues are underfunded as it is. Who is going to pay for it? But if this could be done I would be all for it.
::::I was just thinking. Everyone has been talking about the fact there is surplus of burms in rescues and so forth.
::::And seeing VA Rescue's add in the classifides made me think. Most adoption places will not give burms out to breeders, and I highly reccomend that, but, how do you know FOR SURE that they will not be bred?
::::You can fix (spay/nueter) rabbits, rodents, dogs, cats, and nearly every animal. Why should you not be able to fix a snake? Has it been done before? I there are some methods (as least I think) of proventing breeding but it isn't permenant.
::::If you could fix rescue burms, or some babies that you sell to homes, would that not help the amount of burms being bred and scattered everywhere?
::::I'm not saying that all burms should be fixed, or can be, but to prevent breeding when you adopt out a burm, or sell babies to people that plan to breed to futher decrease the amount of burms out there being bred.
::::I dunno, I'm rambling.