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Philosophies of Venomous herptoculture

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Posted by Matt Harris on May 10, 2003 at 11:38:48:

This back and forth bickering on venomoids has been going on since the boom of mainstream reptile keeping began to rise in the early 90's. After watching this go back and forth, I've come to the realization that I don't really care one way or the other. I see this debate, although healthy, as counter-productive when we face more serious issues, namely having the privilage of keeping venomous species by the private sector eliminated altogether. Any professional who visits this forum will never take any private keeper seriously if he sees this level of behavior going on. Many hot-keepers who consider themselves "purists" will constantly argue that venomoid snakes are inferior snakes not worth the exhorbitant prices dealers ask for them. You can understand why it irritates most skilled, serious venomous keepers to see an inexperienced keeper buying a de-venomized cobra and handling it as if it were a colubrid simply because for the uneducated public observer (i.e., all of them), it paints a very negative image for the venomous keepers altogether.

While most hot-keepers don't want to admit it, the real reason we keep these animals is simply BECAUSE THEY ARE VENOMOUS and dangerous!! It's the same reason why the public has a fascination with deadly creatures and bothers to visit zoos at all. While those of us who have worked with and kept venomous snakes (or even crocodiles for that matter) realize that the nature of even the deadliest snake is generally placid and un-opposing yet, we know in the back of our mind, that these animals DO IN FACT possess the capability of mortally wounding us. It is that very capability that generates an excitement in us to be around them and get to work with them in such a close and intimate setting. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar. It is simply human nature to be fascinated and allured to things wild and risky(if we weren't why would we bother exploring space or the ocean depths?). For most of the general public, they are content to see wild animals so long as those animals are presented within a controlled setting. Unfortunately most of mainstream America is of the belief that if humans can't control it or it presents itself as an inconvenience to us, we must either 1) pass a law to make it illegal or 2) destroy it.

While many are beautiful in color, pattern and morphology, so are many colubrid snakes. Most of us that keep venomous also have non-venomous as well. There is a distinct difference in dealing with both of them---your adrenalin won't run high holding a black rat snake----It will bagging a terciopelo! Once you experience the latter, like a drug, you are more and more entranced by these magnificent beautiful creatures and can't get enough of them. Dealing with a fast racer, while still a chore, simply does not AND WILL NEVER compare to the same feeling of anxiety felt when a terciopelo goes darting 4 or 5 inches from your foot, yet you know that the probability of the snake stopping to try and bite is EXTREEEEEMELY slim. There isn't a person out there who doesn't possess venomous snakes for any other reason than they are VENOMOUS!!! If it weren't the reason, we'd all be keeping rat snakes. This is what causes such outrage when they see amateurs buying the same cobra that doesn't possess venom glands. PLAIN AND SIMPLY, handling a non-venomous cobra does not require the same skill, dexterity and respect that it's fully functioning counterpart requires.

With that being said, I'd suggest we quit bickering about the philosphy of what's right or wrong, and discuss real legitimate topics pertaining to venoumous snakes, husbandry and the like. Maybe a new forum for "Herptoculture Philosophy" is warranted. In time, those who have more money than brains will realize that a devenomoized snake is not worth any more than a hot one and quit paying the prices. Until then, if the dealers are getting what they ask.....then all the more to them. Obviously those who keep bickering about this don't have enough cages to clean!

I leave this last question............"When you go field herping, do you only bag the venomoids, or doesn't it matter?"

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