|One of the most important services a herpetological society can offer is that of
Adoptions and Rescue.
We understand that there are pet keepers that, due to unforeseen circumstances, may find themselves in a
position where they have to relocate an animal or animals. HCHS Adoptions & Rescue would like to help find
homes for these animals by acting as a communication hub for the local community. We currently do not have a
facility for unwanted herps (and do not foresee one in the near future), therefore we are acting as a referral
service. We have regular contact with herp-minded folk local and abroad. This includes information exchange
with other herp societies and rescues, professional breeders, local pet stores, universities, museums, zoos, and
local wildlife agencies. Occasionally, members of the HCHS will foster manageable specimens.
In regards to the term "Rescue", while it goes hand in hand with our Adoptions goal (which usually implies captive
herps), it should not be confused with the service known as "rattlesnake removal and relocation". Much as we'd
like to offer this service (for the sake of our friends, the rattlers), the HCHS presently does not have experienced
volunteers that can respond on such an on-call basis; and of course there is the liability issue.
Our primary interest as a society is the well-being of all herps big and small. When we take in or refer an animal,
we prefer to know as much as possible regarding its age, health, size, history, environment, and behavioral
disposition. If there are problems found, we do not waste time pointing fingers (unless the keeper has been
really bad). Our immediate concern is good health and a happy home for that animal. Criteria for adoption, on
the other hand, comes complete with a lecture on ethics. We do not want any of the animals we try to place
experiencing a repeat of a similar ordeal.
For those of you who are familiar with the world of herpetoculture, you may have already witnessed the horrors
that stem from irresponsible pet ownership and/or propagation. Many of the problems faced are no different than
those which the pet industry experiences as a whole. We apologize if our delivery is a bit harsh, for some
situations are indeed unforeseeable, but examples include:
Basic negligence - Ignorance of species-specific care requirements is the common cause of captive
animals succumbing to starvation, dehydration, infection or disease, and abnormal
behavior. (We have been to pet stores that feed their corn snakes crickets instead of
mice. We've seen bearded dragons with metabolic bone disease, because they were
never fed any greens by their owner. We've seen frogs mummified by heat lamps. A list
of what we have experienced could fill this page!)
Lack of committment - Laziness or a lack of foresight is one of the major factors that puts animals at risk of
becoming homeless. Many cases involve the "no longer cute syndrome." Countless pets
are acquired as juveniles simply for the reason that they look cute. Novelty pets for children
and adults alike! Whether it is an adorable little baby tortoise or a feisty young monitor:
both require daily maintenance; both will grow up; one will get really old, and the other
may grow big enough to take a bite out of Fluffy's leg. We often shudder at the term
"disposable pets." "It looks mean now. It's become too big. I can't afford the food or the
vet. The kids are bored with it!"
We here at HumboldtHerps say "YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE ACQUIRED IT IN THE FIRST
The reasons why some people choose to obtain especially large herps such as
anacondas, reticulated pythons, or alligators often borderline the ludicrous. "I keep my
gator in the front yard to keep out solicitors!" We find that many of these choices are
influenced by something we call "red sports car syndrome," a problem where machismo
and vanity require the biggest and baddest herp. Keeping a large reptile just so one can
impress friends with its feeding behavior ("My snake can take down a small deer, hyuk...")
is not good reason. The entertainment value of a pet should never supercede its
BEFORE YOU CHOOSE TO ADOPT A HERP we recommend that you:
1. Ask yourself why you really want the animal!
2. Please learn everything you can about the species you wish to keep. How big will it get?
How long can it live? How difficult is it to keep? Purchase at least one or two books
that will cover the specific care that this species requires.
3. Make sure that you are able to supply everything that is needed in regards to enclosure,
substrate, heating and lighting (and subsequent electrical costs), food, and possible vet
4. Consider how much time you have to invest in the animal's regular upkeep. Are you up
for a long-term commitment?
If any of these recommendations can not be answered or fulfilled, we suggest a different pet. Reptiles and
amphibians often require food and enclosure supplies that are not always readily available, especially here in the
more remote areas of Northern California. Humboldt County and its neighbors also have a very limited number of
veterinarians that specialize in herp care.
How big is the problem?
It is an unfortunate fact that herps often fall through the cracks of the public's awareness even when a problem
does indeed exist. Here in Northern California, as elsewhere, most of the publicity given to adoptions and rescue
deals primarily with dogs and cats. Simply put, they are among the most popular pets, so there are a lot of them;
and they breed frequently. Occasionally we hear news of iguanas or pythons run amok in Florida suburbs, but
rarely here in redwood country! One of the reasons is that many exotic herps quickly succumb to our coastal
weather conditions and disappear under the debris they thought would protect them from the elements. Tropical
and desert species don't have a chance! Those herps which can endure long periods without eating (esp. some
snakes) often linger on a slow cold road to starvation. While some of the casualties are the result of escape
(basic negligence), many of those found are victims of an intentional release (The owners couldn't find a new
home, so they let it go).
A problem exists! Dead or dying designer boids have been found on our local beaches! Most recently, an entire
collection of exotic herps was found freezing in an abandoned residence. Our local humane society often does
not have the means to appropriately house these rescues. Eureka's Sequoia Park Zoo often gets calls regarding
such tragedies as well as weekly pleas asking if the zoo will adopt unwanted herps. Our local pet stores
regularly receive such requests; in some cases they can take in, quarantine, and eventually resell an animal.
Herps that are, however, either too big, too old, ill-tempered, have scars, or needs too specific to meet are usually
never taken in. The future of these individuals is always uncertain.
There is also the environmental concern of introduced species. Captive-raised animals, especially those that are
native, which are released into the wild may often harbour diseases or genetic anomalies that will infect local wild
populations. For instance, our native California kingsnakes possess a variety of unique gene pools throughout
the state; these could be tainted if combined with genetics from another locality; captive-bred mutations and
behaviors can weaken a gene pool. Introduced non-native species that ARE able to adapt to our local
environment may actually prosper and procreate, and thus inflict havoc on the local ecosystem. Bullfrogs from the
Eastern United States are now in the West gobbling up our local red-legged frogs, baby pond turtles and garter
snakes! A non-native tree snake brought accidentally to Guam has decimated most of the bird species on that
island. Cane toads imported from Central America are poisoning wildlife throughout Australia.
Additionally, there is special concern for wild-caught herps, who not being able to acclimate to a captive
environment or diet, often become ill, and once again, fall into an unwanted category. Wildlife rescues normally
do not deal with these animals. Due to stress acquired in captivity and a change in diet, to name a few reasons,
the California Department of Fish and Game deems most wild-caughts unsuitable for return into the wild. All
California native herps (except some rattlesnake species) have possession limits or restrictions imposed on
them. All owners of wild-caught California native species must have a current CA fishing license. Any native
species found in a captive environment without license or serial number (from a pet store/breeder) or any native
animals bred without a current propagation permit are subject to confiscation by Fish and Game. Since a return
to the wild is not recommended, these animals all face euthanization; owners face fines. Over-collecting or illegal
acquisitions of threatened or endangered species is also a grave situation in many parts of the state of California;
here the fines become steep. Sadly, reptiles and amphibians are policed less often than are "fish and game", so
the saddening question is, "Who really gets caught?"
Where breeding is concerned, there are many within the herp community who do enjoy the wonders of
propagation. Occasionally, though, amateur breeders get in over their heads and suddenly can't find homes for
all the new little ones they've helped into the world. This throws a whole new clutch of animals into the unknown.
Impatient breeders who just can't seem to wait until their animals are completely mature before mating them,
often wonder why their babies look so small and weak. Breeders enthusiastic of color morph mutations, but
clueless regarding genetics, often create mutts for the industry that muddle tried and true lineages. And then
there is inbreeding... Inbred specimens are notorious for possessing health defects.
Now, in the case of larger predatory reptiles there is a growing concern within affected communities towards
safety issues. "That boa ate my Fifi! Are the children next?" One attack is all it will take sometimes to create a
mob mentality that screams "Kill the snake!" Hysteria is not an uncommon response, especially when it comes
to some of our more slithery friends.
When we add everything up, we find that there are a variety of herp-related problems that need to be dealt with in
our area. The herp community should be reminded that there are fundamental organizations out there that are
trying to bring the world of herpetoculture to an end; these tunnel-vision "think-tanks" often spend more time and
donations lobbying than actually doing anything substantial for the animals in question. Some of these, like
PETA, would love to see the end of all animals in captivity. While their ideologies may be extreme, some of their
arguments are however valid. The human populations that have allowed these problems to blossom in the first
place are the fuel for the debate. Our job as a respectable herp society is to bridge the gap between conservation
and propagation and teach responsibility to all those interested in on-going herpetoculture.
We hope we can make a difference!
|If you have a herp that needs a new home, or if you are
interested in fostering or adopting one, please e-mail us so we
can hop on the hub and spread the word.
You may contact us and join our message board at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/humboldtherps/
E-mail Steven Krause (site coordinator) at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please send the following information: species, morph, age, size, health, history, feeding habits, and
behavioral disposition. Also, include a photo that clearly represents the individual.
We also act as a direct referral service for the California Reptorium, one of the local active adoptions and
rescues here in Humboldt. You may contact the Reptorium directly - Please contact Vanessa Blot at:
CaliforniaReptorium@yahoo.com or call (707) 444-0259.
The HCHS currently is not active in its adoptions and rescue program due to a lack of
resources and personnel. If you are looking to foster or adopt, please go to the links at
the bottom of the page, and...
Please take the time to read the following regarding adoptions and rescue.