Back in 2012, President Obama's Interior Department went forward with a proposal to list nine species of snakes as "injurious" -- legalese that would ban the importation and selling of the animals. But when the announcement was made, only four species were put on the list: the Indian python (including the Burmese python), Northern African python, Southern African python, and yellow anaconda.
Those four made up just 30 percent of imports among the nine species looked at as the biggest threats by the U.S. Geological Survey. The other five species of snake -- the reticulated python, DeSchauensee's anaconda, green anaconda, Beni anaconda, and boa constrictor -- account for the other 70 percent of imports.
So now? Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), is calling for the rest to be banned too.
In a post on his blog yesterday, Parcelle says the HSUS has tracked over 500 incidents that involve large constrictor snakes. They include attacks, escapes from cages, and intentional releases into the wild. So far, Boa constrictors and reticulated pythons have already killed five adults and three babies.
"It's time for the Obama administration to finish the job, stopping a reckless trade that results in snakes dispersed in our communities and ultimately leaving a major ecological wake," Parcelle writes. "Dogs and cats were domesticated for thousands of years, and they have a place in our homes. The large constricting snakes we are talking about are wild animals, native to Africa, Asia and South America. While we agree that they are fascinating and remarkable animals, they are best suited in their native environments, and they don't belong in the wildlife trade or in our bedrooms and basements. They die during capture and transport. In the end, too many people get them and then tire of them or realize that they do not have the resources, space and expertise to care for them properly, and release them. Some of the snakes adapt to the wild, becoming invasive species."
Parcelle goes on to call out the Boa constrictor specifically, perhaps the most dangerous of all the snakes talked about.
"Boa constrictors, the most popular of the nine large constrictor snakes in the pet trade, are predators who can grow up to 13 feet long, and they can and have killed large mammals, including humans," he says. "They have now become established in Miami-Dade County and Puerto Rico, and if they become established like Burmese pythons have in south Florida, they could cost the nation tens of millions of dollars in eradication programs - to say nothing of the effect on native species of birds and small mammals, including endangered ones. One study showed that Burmese pythons in the Everglades may have contributed to a 99 percent decrease in the numbers of certain small- to medium-sized mammals."
If you've read this post done nothing but shiver and squirm thinking of how awful snakes are, perhaps you should check out the form the HSUS has set up for folks to let the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service know they want these snakes banned.
If, however, you've read this post and done nothing but pet the slivering beast in the glass cage you have in your living room, check out what they're capable of:
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