You have heard me railing against owners of dangerous or vicious dogs being stupid in the lackadaisical approach to confining their pets. But the owners of venomous snakes take the cake. These people are just downright stupid.
On several occasions I have had to oversee the care of some of the most dangerous reptiles on this planet as a result of the owner being bitten by one of their “pet” snakes. The worst place I have found for stupid snake owners is in Milwaukee. For some reason this city attacks these idiots. To be honest, I don’t remember encountering a female snake hoarder, so maybe they are the smarter gender.
I’ve written about hoarding situations, but snake hoarders are the hardest cases to handle because our employees are just not trained to deal with a venomous snake. I am still so raddled by the experience that I still care snake tongs and a snake hook in my car at all times… and I am retired. We had one case in which a guy was keeping several large alligators in his basement as well. Anyone who is so stupid to own these animals are not smart enough from getting bitten. It is unfortunate that precious antivenom has to be used to continue a species from such a deleterious gene pool.
The really odd thing is that these venomous critters are freely mailed to people. I am usually opposed to new laws, but the plain and simple fact is that we need laws to protect us from idiots. Stopping the importation of dangerous animals to an idiot hoarder would be a good law. Can you imagine what it would be like to live next door to someone who is keeping cobras or green mombas? We had someone in Milwaukee who had both and many, many more dangerous reptiles.
In the old days, drug dealers would keep their drugs hidden under a rattlesnake. Or use an aggressive pitbull to guard their stash. I have heard about drug busts where the police stayed behind the animal control officer (with a catchpole) when they breached the door of a suspected drug dealer. Dealing with a snake hoarder is a different matter.
Usually snake hoarders have no concept of moderation. If you are called upon, it won’t be just a few snakes; you could easily be dealing with 30 to 80 smakes. Fortunately, a few of them will likely not be venomous. But, how can you tell, we are not experts in this field. So, the first call is to your local zoo. You are going to horribly be taking advantage of them. In most cases the zoos cannot take your snakes because reptile hoarders take such horrible care of their animals that the snakes will likely have some disease or snake rot (I made that one up) that will prevent them from endangering their own animals. But, what they do have is cages and handling tools that you will find useful. Anytime that you have to handle the animals to clean their cages, let the zoo personnel volunteer for the task. Keep in mind that the snake’s owner is in the hospital for being stupid (but, I’ve already told you that).
If you are lucky, the courts will award you the animals. The zoo will be able to help you either find new homes or oversee the euthanasia of these animals. Our attempts to anesthetize the snakes failed; animal shelters generally don’t keep containers for such efforts and a jerry-rigged solution may not work. Fortunately snakes like holes. You can devise a short pipe that the snake can crawl into that will allow you to safely inject the animal.
I hope you never have to deal with venomous snakes; but, you have to remember that we are in a business that is secured by the nature of people making bad decisions. Our jobs are to keep the community safe, even though a large portion of that population is working against us.