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Old 03-10-2015, 02:02 PM   #1
Ben Coughlin/TerraAqua

I've begun this thread to provide some more information on Ben Coughlin, aka TerraAqua on Reptiles Canada.

Originally I contacted TerraAqua on May 25, 2014 about an ad he had on Reptiles Canada, advertising some rare snakes; I was not interested in the animals he had listed, but I have been trying to find the species Loxocemus bicolor for some time and decided to ask if he could get them in. He replied,
I had some a few years ago.
Not easy to get.
I am sure if I start digging around I could find you some.
What were you after?
(meaning what kind of group, I assume)

I replied but did not get an answer until January 27, 2015, in which TerraAqua contacted me to tell me he had access to a group of Loxocemus.

spoke to you a while back about the Loxocemus. I kept your email around, as I knew I would come across some eventually. I am getting a group of them this week, and I will have a few extras. If you are interested, let me know. I am planning on keeping most of them, but there will be a small number available if you are still looking for them.
Don't know when I will see them available again.
I replied,

Just wondering what the price is? Thank you for keeping me in mind.
He replied,

they are $400. Might be able to move some on a group.

At this point, my partner had just lost their job. I still really wanted these animals but wanted to make sure we were financially stable before committing to a $1000+ order:

Thanks. Not to put a sob story in, but my partner literally lost his job the day I got this; how long can this offer be held, if it's not too rude of me to ask?
He very kindly replied:

No problem on asking. I cannot hold things without payment or deposit, as I have had people in the past lead me on and on and on....
I have not made them available to anyone yet, though. I will probably put them up for sale later in the week, so at this point, you are the only one who knows of them.
Honestly, I expect they will probably all sell pretty quickly to people in the US. There were only 1 pair and 1 trio available last year in the entire US, and they went for $1200 and $1600 US respectively.
I would prefer to see them go to people here in Canada, so I will offer them here first. Like I said, I have not offered them around yet, so there is a little time on your side. Wish I could do more, but without some kind of commitment I have to go on a first come, first served basis.

I decided to take the plunge, because things began looking up:

No problem. I have a few questions for you; first off, how would you accept payment? I prefer PayPal. Would you be able to ship? I'm located in Edmonton and can pick up at the airport (or, of course, receive door-to-door). What would be the price on 1.1 or 1.2?

And, finally, what condition are the animals in?

Thank you for your patience.
I emailed him again to quote the previous email (note that there were longer and longer delays in answering my emails - but this is standard practice these days, so I didn't mind.)

Hi there,

Hope I'm not being too forward, but I wanted to make sure this message wasn't lost in the ether.

He replied:

so sorry for the late reply. I somehow did miss your last message. Have been pretty sick for the past few days, so my mind has been a bit sluggish.
I can do paypal for payment, but I really prefer email money transfers.
I can ship no problem. I would prefer to ship to the airport at this time of the year. Given the weather it is a far safer option than via a courior service, and is most likely cheaper anyway.
If you wanted to take 1.2 I could do the trio for $1000 plus shipping.

Any other questions let me know.

I replied:

Thanks for the reply. Sorry you've not been feeling well.

What would be the cost, including shipping, for a 1.1 pair? And what age and condition are the animals in?

Thank you.
Note that this is the second time I've asked about the condition of the animals.

I sent the email again, as it had been a longer delay between emails:

Hi there,

Not sure if the email is rebelling again, so I'll re-send this email, but I also wanted to let you know that - barring any horrible catastrophe in the next few days, knock on wood - I'm definitely ready and eager to pay for these animals once I get a total amount and idea of their condition and source from you. Please let me know your PayPal email as well.
He replied:

Sounds good. I will set a nice pair aside for you.
They are in very nice condition, and most have been accepting thawed rodents for food. I will, of course be sending you ones that are readily eating.

Where do you want me to ship them? I will get a shipping quote for you.

I replied:

Thank you kindly. They would be shipped to Edmonton International Airport, code YEG (I think we had discussed that airport shipping is to be preferred). Just curious - are these adults or subadults or juveniles?
Note that he prefers airport shipping - I preferred RE for the door-to-door service but at this point was still very anxious to cooperate for these animals.

Now the delay between responses is three days, so I re-send the email again:

Hi there, not sure if you got this email again - I know eats a lot of my work emails, so I figured I'd re-send it. They would be shipped to Edmonton International Airport, code YEG - I'd be willing to try Reptile Express if you would prefer, though. Just curious - are these adults or subadults or juveniles?

He replied:
sorry, yes, I did not seem to get the last email. I will get a weight and a shipping quote for you. I would actually prefer to ship by air, so if that is also your preference, then I am happy with that. To be honest, Reptile Express is really expensive, and I doubt it would be any cheaper (and in my experience is often more expensive) than air, plus shipping by air when the weather is cold is far more reliable.
I have both adults and juvies - which would you prefer? I am keeping a group for myself, but I am happy with either.
At this point, I happened to come across a Facebook post asking for information about Ben Coughlin/TerraAqua. This is the first time I have seen Ben's name (all the emails come from and are unsigned).

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So I Google Ben Coughlin. Worryingly, I come up with this (the Kijiji pages are no longer available - just the Google results summary):

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As you can imagine, this caused me some concern. I did not want to write this email - but I'm not so well-off that I can lose a thousand bucks and laugh it off, so I did.

Hi there,

Well, I hate to write this email, because I've been waiting 10 years to get Loxocemus, but I think I have to ask a question.

I was reading a Facebook group today when I came across your full name (Ben Coughlin). I did a quick Google search, as I would on anyone who I was purchasing live animals from, and some disturbing materials came up. I know in the herp community bad deals can get blown out of proportion very quickly and I'm not saying that these results were correct, but I would like some reassurance from you, not meaning to impugn you at all - you've been very straightforward with me so far - but I simply cannot afford to lose on this deal. (I can send you screenshots of the various concerning items, if you would like.)

One option would be to use Reptile Express's escrow service. I understand it would be more expensive and I'm willing to pay the extra in shipping; this way we both will be protected, as I know you are not familiar with me either. (I am not a large-scale breeder and do not do much business - I've purchased from Jim Dyke, Greg West, Ian Muir and Roy Stockwell in the last two years, but none of these transactions were probably notable enough for any of those guys to tell you anything about me aside from "paid the bill, took possession of the purchase".)

Again, I hope I am not offending you. This is not an accusation but a request for clarification based on the Google search, and a desire to keep my good name in the community free and clear of any trouble.

In response, I would prefer a healthy adult 1.1 pair, as I hope to produce these animals in captivity. It is too bad that they are available now and not last summer - I would much rather pick up my original 2.3 from you but, as it is, I am spending a bit above myself to pick up these animals. They are a lifelong dream of mine and I simply cannot resist.

Best wishes,
Julian Rossi
I thought there was a good chance the deal was over, but he replied:

Hi Julian,
no offense taken. It is always good to be certain. To be honest I am not really sure as to what you are referring, as I have dealt with literally hundreds of people in both the US and Canada, as well as dozens overseas without incident. I pretty much keep to myself, so I am not involved in the gossip mongering of the forums.

If you want to use the escrow service I can certainly look into it. I have not heard of it, but I supplied Sam (the owner) for years in his retail store (with never a problem, I might add), so I am certainly familiar with him.
I may also be able to ship them to you freight collect, as I have done this for international shipments, but never domestic, so I will have to see if this is a possibility. Either way, I am easy to work with, and when we are finished you will have a good story to tell as opposed to a poor one.

Do you know off hand what the cost of the escrow service is and what is involved?

Note that he name-drops Sam from Reptile Express; I have not contacted Sam to confirm this.

I replied:

Hi Ben (if I may call you Ben),

Glad to not have offended you. I am looking into the escrow services now; as I am requesting it, I will take on the fee for it, if any. I am not familiar with freight collect either but that is certainly a possibility, though the former service offers us both maximum protection. Reptile Express doesn't advertise but offers this service free of charge, I think, if their shipping is used, and J&J Reptiles offers this service as well but I don't know how much the cost is. (RE offers some details on this old forum thread: - scroll down for RE's first post to the thread.) Essentially I will give the person the money for your animals; you will ship the animals to them (or drop off animals for shipping, for RE); they will verify species and quantity and ship them on to me. If we use RE, and you drop it off, Sam will verify the animals and give you the money immediately; if you ship it, the funds will be held until I have verified the correct animals were received.

If you'll let me know a price quote for 1.1 adult Loxocemus shipped to Edmonton via Reptile Express, we can work it out from there (though if we use J&J for escrow, it will be shipped to Calgary - I believe the shipping cost would be the same) - I am not sure which escrow service I will be using; I didn't want to leave you hanging while I inquired about it, and the escrow fee may be a percentage of the amount held in trust.
No response, so I re-sent the email, along with the cost of the escrow services that I'd gotten from Sam.

Hi Ben,

Sorry to bother you again - wasn't sure if you got the below email. The escrow service offered by RE is $11 so I will happily pay for this and the cost of shipping. Thanks!
No response in eight days, so I re-sent the last two emails with this addition:

I haven't heard from you in 8 days. Sorry to bother you, I'm just wondering if this deal is still on, as I've put several other projects on hold in order to fund this one. If I don't hear from you within the week, I'll consider it off, for whatever reason. Thank you for your time.
At this point, I decided to ask about him. I got an earful back:

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Old 03-10-2015, 02:05 PM   #2

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So that's where everything stands. I have not lost any money so I did not enter this as a "Bad Guy" post; however, I'm very sad to have lost a chance to own these animals, as they are very rare in the hobby. I suppose as it has only been six days since the last email, there is still a possibility, but I am now a bit wary due to the information I received on Facebook.

I did want this to be available for anyone considering doing business with TerraAqua/Ben Coughlin in the future.
Old 03-17-2015, 04:44 AM   #3
Interesting thread.

I was very recently contacted by a person using the email address in this thread via Kingsnake.

The message was inquiring about some Geochelone platynota I have. A CITES 1 species. If the person who contacted me is in Canada, that appears to be a no-no on at least two levels. That the individual apparently has challenges conducting his end of deals in an above-board fashion is an additional concern.

Thank you for making this information searchable. It saved me some wasted time at the very least. Possibly much more.

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Interested in the platynota.
When do you anticipate females to be available, and how many?


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Old 03-24-2015, 06:20 PM   #4
Originally Posted by nickolasanastasiou View Post
Interesting thread.

I was very recently contacted by a person using the email address in this thread via Kingsnake.

The message was inquiring about some Geochelone platynota I have. A CITES 1 species. If the person who contacted me is in Canada, that appears to be a no-no on at least two levels. That the individual apparently has challenges conducting his end of deals in an above-board fashion is an additional concern.

Thank you for making this information searchable. It saved me some wasted time at the very least. Possibly much more.
I'm pleased to have helped. As a final update, no further contact has been made by Ben. As I've said, I'm disappointed that I will not be able to own Loxocemus, but have moved on and hope to eventually find this species from a reputable exporter.
Old 09-18-2017, 06:37 PM   #5
I have recently had interaction with who I can only assume is the same person. Shame on me for not recognizing that he is using two names. Fauna user: Terra, Name: Ben Carlson. He requested that I email him at

He sent me a $200 deposit on a $950 purchase back on August 18th, and I have not heard from him since. He said he'd need two weeks to pay the balance. I told him I wasn't in a big rush, that I'd be ok as long as he paid within 30 days. I emailed him Sept 6th, no reply. Tried again September 12th, along with sending a request for half the balance, no reply.

I decided to look him up here today, and found this. At the moment he is going to be out $200 if he doesn't contact me. It's an odd occurrence.
Old 09-19-2017, 08:47 PM   #6
Corey Woods
Keep his money and resell his animals. Problem solved.

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