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Posted by Charith on February 23, 2000 at 14:35:03:
In Reply to: Threads & opportunities for herpetoculture.....(long).. posted by Nightflight99 on February 21, 2000 at 21:11:55:
"As both herpetoculture and herpetology are growing fields, a number of threads have come up, which pose new or increased challenges to our hobby."
"With the rapidly growing popularity of keeping reptiles as pets, many people realize the potential for profit in the commercial herp industry."
Actually I think it is great that more people are interested in having herps as pets AS LONG as they have the proper setup and information needed to keep them. The base line problem here is that most pet shops don't know themselves how to properly care for these animals and the customers are missinformed in many ways that usually end up fatal to the animal!
"This has lead to too many inexperienced handlers and dealers importing large quantities of low-cost animals for the pet trade, especially in the US."
This has been going on for many years and not likely to stop any time soon. It is up to the individual countries to place laws against importation of wc animals and then enforce it. Look at the island of Golapogas? (sp may be wrong here) They have placed MANY laws to protect their wildlife there and don't have the money or the manpower to enforce them. Read one of the back issues of National Geographic about the sad story there!
"Many of them are primarily in it for the money, and this often results in the acquisition of animals from a non- reputable source, delivering animals of poor health and quality."
Technically, we can't create any blacklists in the US for the pourpose of being sued for slander etc, etc. This is where the feds come into play in the US, constant inspections of importers/exporters on a regular basis, and surprise inspections. The feds get such a bad rap for doing their job, but it's a necessary one and much needed in that industry. You're right, the importers/exporters are in it for the money. But ask them if they'd prefer a heatlhy batch of lizards, monitors or chameleons vs a sickly deathly batch, you'd know they'd want the first.
The problem with most import/exporters is they don't have enough knowledge of the animals they bring in themselves to pass onto the shops and individuals they do sell to. They just want to sell as fast as they can.
Perhaps the first place to start would be to place restrictions on the importation of animals to those who have a good knowledge of the animals they want to bring in. Require that they be kept for dewormings, rehydration, etc BEFORE being sold.
"This has also dropped the retail prices of many of these animals way below their real value, considering the time & knowledge required to keep them appropriately."
Importation of animals is not the only cause of the price drops. Go to a local herp show someday and see how many people just breed some herps in masses and then sell off the babies so cheap no one can compete with them. Half the time, the babies are only days old and the people buying them have no idea. The babies have high fatality rates, so most customers leave not knowing what they've gfotten themselves into.
"Tese animals are then dumbed or kept irresponsibly, escapes and accidents are the natural result, and all responsible herpers have to pay for these accidents through stricter laws or even the banning of constrictor snakes in some counties. I'm sure everyone agrees that this is posing an increasing thread to our hobby, and that it is time to take iniatives to do something about this."
You're right on the nail there. There are a few groups forming to prevent some laws being placed to prevent herps from being banned. Education is the total key here. People who buy these animals MUST know what they are getting, what it takes to keep them, and know of risks involved. All too often I hear people complain about having to take a sick reptile to a vet because it would cost more to treat the animal than it did to buy it.
"I know there are some very decent and responsible pet stores out there, yet there are still far too many that have financial gain as their primary objective."
Again, there are no laws enforcing anything regarding this issue, which in my opinion should be where it should begin. Pet shopd should be REQUIRED to have knowledge of the animals they are selling, and have trained staff to assist customers. There is no degree or studies required to own or operate a pet store, there are no laws limiting anything legal to sell in each state. They aren't even required to give any information in the care of the animals. It's a free zone out there as long as the animals is legal in that state.
Instead of trying to start pounding the importers and exporters, I think our goal would be to start with the petshops and setting some better regulations. (I know I'll be slammed big for this) I just closed my own petshop and I guarunteed all my animals, only brought in what I had knowledge on, and thoroughly trained my staff on their care. I even had info posted on the cages and habitats regarding info about these animals. Too many times I talked people out of buying something after discussing with them what they were looking for. Most didn't want a snake that would get larger than 6 or 8 feet and would eat their family cat!
I think you have a good idea on the educational side of people buying pets. BUT, will it happen? I think not. People do not regard animals like they do their children for the most part. And even so, do all parents go to parenting classes? No! So, where do we start? With regulations and educational requirements for the petshops. I truely beleive this is where we'd begin to win the battle of losing herps and soon to be endangered species that are flying into this country and die because they go to home where they can't be cared for properly.