Owning reptiles faces snake eyes

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Sunday, February 11, 2007

This past week has been a little hectic here in Florida, with the arrest of a marauding, diapered astronaut and the demise of celebuminx Anna Nicole Smith at an Indian reservation casino complex.

So you easily might have missed the news about the "reptiles of concern."

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted last week to establish new restrictions on people who want to keep potentially dangerous captive wildlife as pets.

"Reptiles of Concern will encompass the large constrictors, monitors, and other reptile species that the Commission may deem to have a negative impact on the environment or become a threat to public safety," the commission report stated.

In other words: We’re a little worried what’s going to happen to your 10-foot Burmese python when the next hurricane hits, or when you get tired of feeding it.

I don’t know why anybody would want to own a green anaconda or a Nile monitor lizard. But I’m glad that the state finally has decided to make an effort to determine whether these people are at least borderline sane.

The new rules, which will go into effect next year, will require the wannabe owners of these so-called pets to submit to questioning.

"For reptiles of concern, the successful completion of a questionnaire will be required," the commission’s new Rule 68A-6.007 states.

This is a great idea, a way to determine whether a "person of concern" were about to have custodial care of a "reptile of concern."

So, in the spirit of helping the state in its worthwhile mission to weed out unworthy python owners, I’ve come up with a short questionnaire for the screening process:

1. Id like to own a python because …

(a) I love animals.

(b) I love animals, but I’m tired of tarantulas.

(c) I want to wear it around my neck at the mall.

(d) It’d be a shame to waste all those mice at my place.

(e) My neighbor’s yappy Shih Tzu is driving me crazy.

2. I plan to keep my python in …

(a) An escape-proof, safety glass tank.

(b) The dirty clothes hamper.

(c) The baby’s room.

(d) The pickup.

(e) My ex-wife’s bed.

3. If I have to evacuate for a hurricane, I will …

(a) Leave my python behind in the safest room in the house.

(b) Write my phone number, with area code, in permanent marker on my python.

(c) Take it with me in the trunk.

(d) Drop my python off in the Everglades, or if too far, the nearest wooded area, or if too far, the nearest playground.

(e) Show up at the hurricane shelter with my python disguised as my belt.

4. If my python outgrows its tank, I will …

(a) Buy a bigger tank.

(b) Sell it on the Internet.

(c) Start feeding it smaller animals.

(d) Let it have the guest bathroom.

(e) Give it away to a heavy metal band.

5. If my python goes missing, I will …

(a) Notify animal control.

(b) Look under the beds.

(c) Put up fliers in my neighborhood.

(d) Give it a few hours to show up while I press on with the kids’ birthday party.

(e) Casually mention it to one the flight attendants on the airplane.



For the cats,


Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue

an Educational Sanctuary home

to more than 100 big cats

12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625

813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

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