Sunday, 6 October 2013

As Constrictor Attacks Continue, Look to the Snake Trade (Op-Ed)

Wayne Pacelle is the president and chief executive officer of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). This Op-Ed is adapted from a post on the blog A Humane Nation, where the content ran before appearing in LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

A New York area animal control officer, under investigation for workers' compensation fraud, attracted headlines last month after law enforcement discovered that he had 850 snakes, including Burmese pythons, in his garage. Richard Parrinello was selling pythons and boa constrictors as pets over the Internet, even though state law forbids the possession of certain species.

It's an extraordinary circumstance, but hardly unique. There are millions of large constricting snakes traded via the Internet through private dealers like Parrinello, at reptile shows, and also at pet stores. In so many cases, those pet dealers are keeping the snakes in warehouse-type conditions, often inside exceptionally small, stacked, plastic containers no larger than a shoe or sweater box, and selling them through websites and at reptile expos.

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