Legal trading of wild caught reptiles

Discussion in 'Australian Snakes' started by mje772003, Mar 29, 2014.

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  1. Sean_L

    Sean_L Not so new Member

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    My statement covers more than simply snakes. Being, as you have also said, extremely instinctually driven creatures, the differences in snakes are perhaps less pronounced than with other reptiles, like lizards. As andynic has postulated, the behaviour of captive vs wild snakes is quite clear through their handleability, but yes, I would agree that this is perhaps a poor example. However, when it comes to snakes in particular, feeding habits can be very different between wild specimens and those that have come from long captive lineages. The vigor, accuracy, bite location, coil speed, the length of time for suffocation, and other factors are all noticably different between the two groups.

    Although often subtle in snakes, the differences in lizards like dragons are there, I assure you.
     
  2. Snowman

    Snowman Guest

    Feeding is definitely up there. Especially if we are offering prey that they aren't used to. My olive was a pain to get feeding. There are also many captive bred species like wellsi that need to be force fed, as they usually won't take rodents when born.
    My wheatbelts smash mice. And no doubt the wheatbelt has some healthy mice populations haha.

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    Feeding is definitely up there. Especially if we are offering prey that they aren't used to. My olive was a pain to get feeding. There are also many captive bred species like wellsi that need to be force fed, as they usually won't take rodents when born.
    My wheatbelts smash mice. And no doubt the wheatbelt has some healthy mice populations haha.
     
  3. Sean_L

    Sean_L Not so new Member

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    I think I notice the differences more than some perhaps because I have fed all manner of reptiles on live food on various occassions. We wont go into the reasons for this, nor the usual moral bull thats associated with it, but thats where you really notice the difference in approach between the two. Quite fascinating to watch a true predator at work, and quite unremarkable to watch a captive excuse for one. Dont get me wrong though, some species are more far gone than others.
     
  4. Focus

    Focus Not so new Member

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    Can you detail what differences you see in in wild vs cb snakes in feeding? Just for interests sake, I think it's a good topic to be get an educated view on.
     
  5. Sean_L

    Sean_L Not so new Member

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    Its a little off track from the main topic but Ill give a few brief observations Ive made. In a confined space, such as an enclosure, a wild snake will (ok, almost) never miss a strike. Not so with a number of captive bred animals Ive seen.
    Wild pythons will ALWAYS throw numerous coils around a prey item, with accuracy, while maintaining a grip on the animal with its jaws. Ive seen captive pythons barely manage to get a coil around a live prey item and then fail to hold onto the animal, only to strike again, miss, and then finally subdue the prey on a third attempt. Ive also seen examples where the snake hasn't even bothered to coil at all.
    You could argue that in some instances this is merely due to the fact that the snake has become used to a routine and 'knows' that a food item is pre-killed. All I can say to this is that I have varied live and pre-killed feedings and never feed my animals routinely, and have still witnessed this.
    I have also seen examples of where pythons merely reach out and take an item carefully. A wild snake will not do this.
     
  6. Focus

    Focus Not so new Member

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    [MENTION=40131]Sean_L[/MENTION] cheers mate, it's interesting info. I've often wondered wondered how wild snakes survive if they display the same hunting behaviour that some captives do though I realise that's probably a simplistic view. But you're right, it's a subject for another thread.
     
  7. Snowman

    Snowman Guest

    A few people that have wild caught M. s. imbricata will tell that they do that sometimes with dead rodents. @lithopian @Niall
    I've thought it strange myself and its the older ones that do it, never the juvies. I'm not sure if they were once near roads and occasionally ate road kill or if they are just hesitant to eat a non moving prey item. These particular specimens wont take food from tongs, they are too nervous, and only eat birds and rodents that are left in with them so that they can approach them cautiously.

    Another difference I forgot about with Wild vs Captive is their internal clocks. Wild (and some captive) seem to switch off feeding regardless of temp. I'm used to ant's doing this, but it is unusual to see carpets in particular do this. None of my captive bred switch off feeding with the same temps.
     
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  8. longqi

    longqi Very Well-Known Member

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    Permanent sustainability of wild caught collection should be the only criteria permitting wild collection of wildlife that is already in the pet trade
    [for species such as oenpellis different criteria are justified]

    Australia may be a big chunk of dirt but really its just a group of islands genetically
    Those islands provide the locales everybody wants

    If an isolated locale anywhere becomes flavour of the month it can be hit hard and the gene pool adversely affected when only the best of the best specimens are collected
    Avoiding that can be difficult if strict controls are not in place
     
  9. Snowman

    Snowman Guest

    What we have seen in WA is that those few who do licensed taking are generally responsible. But the poachers are ruthless.. When wheatbelt stimis became popular over east the granite outcrops got hit hard. To the point no capping was left and it was all flipped and smashed in many areas. A few people were caught, but most got away it seems.
     
  10. longqi

    longqi Very Well-Known Member

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    There has never been any legal permits for collecting Kofiau or Misool Chondros, [canary yellows]
    Despite that, when they became popular about 12 years ago the numbers were devastated to the point where snake smugglers now consider both island as no longer commercially viable

    Now Dwarf retics are in fashion so Kalataus etc are reaching the same point

    Scientists only need less than 150 humans to continually breed without genetic problems
    So how can the gene pool argument be really justified??
     
  11. Snowman

    Snowman Guest

    I don't think the gene pool has ever been a valid argument. Look at how well RSP have done from only a few specimens.
     
  12. Beans

    Beans Guest

    I know what I'm saying has no 'factual or scientific' value because it is my opinion. And I would appreciate it if you didn't imply I was an idiot for having said opinion.

    I can see why people would do it but I still don't agree with it. I'm well aware of the fact that snakes don't go for walks and take in scenery.

    I also don't appreciate you saying that I shouldn't comment because I don't know anything about this discussion. That is extremely rude, and as this is a discussion I will put my 2 cents in it even if some people don't like it or agree with that I'm saying. I guess that's the difference in opinion hey. I don't think you're an idiot because you take from the wild and have different views to me.

    And just like a lot of other members here, I'm here to learn about things and expand my knowledge from more experienced keepers like your self. Which I appreciate greatly.
    Thanks
     
  13. Bluetongue1

    Bluetongue1 Guest

    There have been a few more posts while I constructed this one. There is a measure of simplification for pragmatic reasons only. It is not personal in nature. I am simply providing facts to be considered...

    I have seen a two and a half metre wild-caught Mulga that was so laid back the owner could hang it around his neck without holding it. It has been in captivity a long time. The point to be made here is that snakes learn. Wild caught snakes alter their behaviour over time when in captivity, even more so if regularly handled. I would suggest that most of the observed differences are related to the time in captivity and the amount and frequency of handling. I recognise that individual snakes vary so we are necessarily dealing in generalisations here.

    Another possible source of certain ‘captive’ behaviours, although it is yet to be demonstrated, may be the result of the lack of pressure to survive in the wild. In captivity we ensure as many individuals in a clutch survive as possible, even if it requires force or assist feeding of some. Would these individuals survive in the wild and are we propagating animals with ‘weak genes’?

    On the subject of captivity, it removes animals from predators, competitors, temperature extremes, the effects of prolonged lack of rain, the uncertainty of where and when the next meal is coming from, natural disasters such as bushfires, cyclones and floods, introduced sources of physical injury such as cars, trucks, cattle and horses, and ecto- and endo-parasites. If the husbandry is correct then the animal’s needs are being met in captivity. Many people think of nature as a great place to be for animals. The reality is that more offspring are produced that can possibly survive (due to limited resources available). There is therefore a struggle for existence. The reality of nature? ...it’s a ‘jungle’ out there!

    The excess of offspring produced is why wild taking of non-endangered animals has no lasting effect on their populations. In the NT they annually harvest 50,000 plus crocodile eggs and remove an average of 282 animals per year (based on the past four years), including individuals in excess of 4.5 m. Yet the crocodile population continues to expand, both in numbers and average size. This annual harvest, which has no effect on the total population, is biologically referred to as sustainable yield.

    Even reptiles with low fecundity, such as geckoes, have a sustainable yield. A pair of geckos might live for 5 years and breed for say 3 of those. If they produce three clutches of two eggs in a season, that is a total of 18 offspring over the 3 years. To maintain the population only 2 offspring are required to survive and reproduce. Therefore, 16 out of 18 must die early. Harvesting a percentage (usually around 10% to 15% to be conservative) of those doomed to die will have no overall effect on the population.

    Blue
     
  14. andynic07

    andynic07 Very Well-Known Member

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    Very good post Blue and I agree with what you have said , I think that all of the differences mentioned between wild caught and captive are learned behaviour and can eventually be changed in captivity.

    As for the accuracy of striking I do not have a lot of experience with both examples of one species so I won't make claims but will just say what I have seen. When I was young I used to love catching gts's and keeping them for a while and then letting them go. I would keep them and feed them but found that they were very inaccurate with their strikes, it would usually take two or three attempts to get the prey item (live). I have seen numerous elapids that are captive bred (adders, taipans) that were extremely fast and accurate with their strikes. I have actually seen one taipan being live fed and it struck the rat with lightning speed and accuracy, we expected the rat to die very quickly but it didn't , the rat ran around the enclosure within striking distance of the taipan and the snake would not strike again. The owner was thinking that maybe it wasn't hungry and was wondering how he would get the rat out when the rat started to shake and then keeled over. We noticed a small scratch on the tail of the rat where it was bitten and figured that the snake had know that the rat was envenomated and was not going to waste more venom to kill it faster and assimilated this to wild instincts.

    As for coiling with vigor I have not seen live feeding so can't comment on that but I have seen wild pythons, wild coastal carpets that I have found take dead rats placed in front of them without the coiling vigor that you would expect or that I have seem from my diamond cross , my woma python or my two bhp's. As my other experiences there is nothing scientific about my observations because it is comparing apples to oranges and sample sizes are very small.
     
  15. Bluetongue1

    Bluetongue1 Guest

    Andy, any correctly recorded or reiterated observation can potentially be contributing data to a scientific investigation. Facts, while not scientific of themselves, do constitute the basis of scientific decision making. This and their relevance to the discussion at hand are why I consider your observations of scientific worth.

    Taipans are strike and release hunters - in order to avoid being damaged by the teeth of large rodents which constitute their main prey. They have an acute sense of smell/taste and are easily able to track a prey item. Despite their speed, I would agree that they would likely have a pretty good idea whether or not they managed to sink a fang in or not. If there was any doubt, I would imagine that the snake would wait it out for some good measure of time before having another crack at a live animal.

    As Longqi points out, localised populations can be harvested beyond sustainable limits. The examples given involve collectors who are out to collect every single specimen they see and keep collecting from the same area until they can no longer find enough specimens to make a profit. With species that are readily located within their natural habitat, this sort of collecting can decimate a population. For species that are particularly cryptic or quick to hide in inaccessible places, even attempts at intense collection will have much less effect on the total population.

    To me, the most concerning aspect of wild taking here is the destruction of habitat. It is not only illegal but incredibly irresponsible. Destruction of cap sheets on granite outcrops, for example, will take nature many thousands of years to even begin to replace. This sort of damage is clearly not the work of someone who wants to return and collect in the same area again. I should also point out that a percentage of habitat destruction is the result of simple wanton vandalism and not all down to illegal collecting.

    Blue
     
  16. Sean_L

    Sean_L Not so new Member

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    Thats quite an interesting observation. I wonder if many other species behave in a similar manner? Presumably the prey is fresh killed and still warm, or is the snake simply going on scent?
    I suppose being roadside any residual heat from the road may warm the prey. However then youd expect the normal strike behaviour. Maybe it is purely scent. The snake just knows theres a lump of food in front of it.

    I always attempt to simulate live animal behaviour when feeding snakes, rather than simply holding the food item out to snake, and always have the body temp of the prey item higher than ambient to give the impression its alive. Even with these factors, that should produce a normal intense feeding response, I have seen the 'reach out and take' behaviour. Just an observation.

    - - - Updated - - -

    On the subject of needing only 150 humans to maintain stable genetics, I would argue that these 150 would be strictly controlled in the manner in which they 'bred'. There would be very specific rules in place to ensure that as much variation as possible in the individuals' genes was present.

    In terms of snakes, keepers have far less than 150 snakes, of the same species, in their collection with which to breed and further more, use only a small percentage of their animals to intensify genetic mutations, etc. This smaller number of source animals and repeated recycling of genes through sibling/sibling and parent/off spring breeding intensifies the genetic degredation, or at the very least, the genetic divergence from the original animal.
    Its still very earlier days for the RSP, in comparison to other species. Time will tell whether that example holds up (unless of course more blood is added to the line).

    Look at it in terms of physical attributes then, as behaviour can vary so much between animals of even the same up-bringing. In my opinion, of course, ANY difference in normal physical traits, be it colour, pattern or physical structures such as crests or 'horns' is an example of genetic difference between captive and wild animals. We know that the shape and colour of an animal have been honed over thousands, if not millions of years to produce the 'best suited' version of that species. When this is changed, what results is a less than perfect mutation. How can you possibly say that the 'gene pool argument' has never been vaild. If the animal looks different, how can it possibly be the same in every other way, to a wild specimen?

    When you interfere with natural selection and begin to pick and choose your own prime genetic traits you inevitably take a number along with you that are unwanted because the many, many selection criteria for survival havent been met or even experienced, theyve been circumvented by captive husbandry. What has been created is no longer a wild animal, how can it be compared to one?

    I always come back to dogs because its such a perfect and well displayed example. Despite the fact that dogs all behave differently, all have their own quirks and behavioural traits, you can catergorise an individuals behaviour, etc based soley on its breed with a fair amount of certainty. This is because those 'other' gentic traits, like behaviour, have been passed along with the physical traits of size, colour and hair length. Of course, there are examples of where the behaviour is the selected trait, such as in guard and hunting dogs, but you'll notice that the physcal traits of these species come along with those behaviour traits too. Theyre part and parcel.

    Argue that a captive snake that is completely different in terms of physical attributes can possibly be the same in terms of its behaviour.

    If you still cant see it, give it time, theyve been breeding dogs alot longer and more intensly than snakes.
    Just wait, and by the time there are no snakes in the wild, whats left in captivity will be far from what was lost.

    - - - Updated - - -

    And yes bluetongue, we are propagating animals with weak genes. Theres a reason the speceis that are present today have survived. Because the weak individuals didnt.
    When half of your clutch dies in the egg (this happens alot with pythons breeders nowadays) the warning bells should be going off!
     
  17. cement

    cement Subscriber Subscriber APS Veteran

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    I have to agree to disagree on quite a few points here.
    Most of my experience straddles equally both wild and captive animals including breeding s from both. Multi generational captive breedings against straight out wild caught breedings.
    It may be different now in this day and age but I really don't beleive so.
    Years ago there was only wild caught and I know of many clutches where the survival rate or the deformity rate of wild bred clutches were higher then captive bred clutches.
    Even today my daughters spotted pythons that are captive for many generations are still throwing 100% fertile and robust hatch rate.
    The point about feeding being different may be due simply to 'overfeeding'. In captivity over feeding is prevalent.... even slight over feeding can slow down a snake, but leave that snake for a year with no food and they revert quite easily back to the 'smash at all costs' predator they are. And yes, I beleive that any adult python in decent condition will survive a year without food.
    Like I mentioned before, mortality/deformity rates in wild bred snakes can quite often be higher then captives, but in saying this, and making these observations, I also beleive that each animal has its own personal weaknesses and strengths. Handling a snake doesn't necesarily make a snake docile. I have caught many wild snakes that have been dog tame, and I have seen many captive snakes that are the opposite. I have some in my collection that are dog tame at certain times of the year, but if you stick your hand in their cage through the feeding months, or try handling them for long periods, you will get bitten.

    I genuinly wonder that if there was a competition to actually look and handle and feed 10 snakes of unknown origin, then have to guess the wild caught versus the captive bred, how many would you get correct?
    I pick up many escaped pet snakes, and they sometimes have full bellies....For example a bredl's that I caught on the central coast a couple of months back was at least 3 yrs old, had a large rat in its gut, when I would clean its holding tub I would put it to the side where it would wrap around a bookshelf and take multiple strikes at me though I was 3 feet away.
    Was it 'wild bred'?, was it 'captive bred'? was it just a naughty individual?
     
  18. ^ +1

    With regard to propagating animals with weak genes, there may be some of that, but by far the biggest number of wild baby snakes which make it to hatch successfully are strong enough to survive in the wild if they are not deformed, they can find food, if weather conditions suit them for a time after they hatch, and if they are not predated on. Any snake that makes it through the rigours of gestation and incubation and is physically sound is likely to be a survivor if it can find food and shelter.

    Jamie
     
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  19. Sean_L

    Sean_L Not so new Member

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    @ cement
    Thats all good and well cement, but your daughters spotted python eggs are kept neat and warm in an incubator, from a perfectly healthy, well fed, well cared for animal, without a worry in the world. Your comparison doesnt really enter into it im afraid.

    Im not attempting to force anything upon you that can readily be observed everyday. In most instances, the evidence is still subtle. Im merely trying to educate anyone thats interested of the potential severity of genetic sloppyness.

    Its anyone's right to disagree. Its everyones right to ignore scientific observations and logic as well.
    The point im making is that, yes it may be youre right to feel as though nothing is wrong, and your actions arent potentially harmful.....but its the future that will prove yet another string of mistakes has been made, and only then will something be done........futile attempts to rectify a problem that will no longer be solveable.
    We wont have any of the species we have today. Who knows what we'll have.

    But yes, I do agree with the fact that a python can survive 12 months quite happily on reserves from a good meal.
    As for your hypothesis however, I dont overfeed my reptiles (as far as you can compare reasonably regular meals to potentially hugely irregular meals in the wild).


    @ pythoninfinite
    'Likely to survive in the wild' and continuing a strong genetic line for the survival of an entire species are two very different things. Id put 10 pure, wild animals against 10 of the best captives any day of the week. Maybe thats just me, but wild will always be genetically superior in my opinion.
     
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  20. Your last statement addressing my post is pure supposition and not based on anything proveable, as you say it's only your opinion. You may be right, you may be quite wrong, I couldn't say one way or the other, but your "opinion" is just that... an opinion, nothing more.

    Jamie
     
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