Controversial snake ban moving forward

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Posted: Friday, June 27, 2014 4:30 pm

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Back in 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed adding nine species of giant snakes as injurious reptiles under the Lacey Act, which would have banned them and put limits on transporting them.

At the time, it was decided only four of the snakes would be added to that list. But now the other five species of giant snakes are being considered.

Jeremiah Nichol is the head animal curator for Sarasota Jungle Gardens.

He is not only responsible for the animals and reptiles at the zoo but also at his home.  “I am a snake owner. I do have pet boa constrictors and other reptiles,” he told ABC7.

If the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has their way, it could become more difficult to own certain types of snakes. FWS is considering a proposal to add five giant snakes to their list of injurious reptiles.

“This is Sandy, she is a boa constrictor and she is one of the snakes people are proposing putting on that list. Right now there are no restrictions on having boas or smaller pythons.”

In 2012, the law went into affect that prohibits anyone from importing Burmese pythons, yellow anacondas and northern and southern African pythons into the U.S. or transporting them across state lines.

“The Burmese python, which are already on the restricted list, are the second largest snake in the world and they are very popular as pets because they are pretty docile actually; they are not usually aggressive or mean,” said Nichol.

He thinks the proposed ban is being considered again to prevent more non native species from becoming established in Florida.  “Unfortunately we get a lot of people who are irresponsible. We get people here calling us all the time at Jungle Gardens who want to get rid of boas or smaller pythons or other pets that they just don’t want to take care of any more.  And a lot of people, if they are really desperate, will just turn them loose out in the wild.”

Once released into the wild, non-native snake species often flourish and wreak havoc on our ecosystem.  “They actually do compete with, lets say, the foxes and the bobcats, and even say like the Florida panthers down here for the same types of prey.”

The United States Association of Reptile Keepers is opposed to the ban and has filed a lawsuit to have it overturned, writing on their website: “This is about much more than large constrictors and much more than reptiles as pets. This should concern pet owners of any species, be it fish, reptile, bird, tarantula, amphibian or mammal. Horribly bad science was used to remove our freedoms and this is a clear case of government overreach.”

The FWS is seeking public comment on the proposal through July 24. To comment, visit

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Welcome to the discussion.

1 comment:

  • treelad posted at 9:33 pm on Sat, Jun 28, 2014.

    treelad Posts: 1

    A national ban on the import, sale and propagation of all known invasive exotic species (without a license) needs to be considered, and this needs to apply to ALL potentially invasive species, both floral and faunal, not just a few snake species. Until that happens, banning the snakes alone is unfair and will only encourage a black market. If the sale and keeping of exotic animals were regulated in the way livestock or cars are (with tags, DNA tracking and registration), owners could be held legally responsible if their animals are let loose in the wild and remove the financial burden of their damage and removal from taxpayers...


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