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Old 12-18-2005, 04:37 PM   #1
Exclamation Indigo snakes in captivity.

Since I began studying, and researching indigo snakes a few years ago, Ive noticed that there are a few individuals who do not approve of the keeping of snakes, and in particular the eastern indigo. One such individual, in my opinion, is Angela Williams. She is the go to gal for Florida Fish & Wildlife Endangered species permits. So If you live in Florida, and you want to acquire a legal captive bred animal, you must apply through her. She has flat out told me that she does not understand why anyone would want to keep an indigo in captivity, and she has expressed her personal disapproval of persons doing so. Hence, the EXTREME difficulty, near impossibility of obtaining a permit in Fla.

I further recognize that she is not alone. Many government officials would be inclined to agree with her. Some of those government officials, may or may not be sympathetic of the Humane Society's belief that snakes should not be kept in captivity as pets at all.

To all these people, I say this. You keep whatever kind of pet you want, and I will do the same. I have developed a trusting bond with these animals, the likes of which, I have never seen before. I do not like to call them pets. To me, a pet is a disposable animal given to a child to play with until it dies. They are not really livestock either. I would call them family members. The value of such a relationship, and the resulting observations cannot be understated. We learn from our captive animals. And a species who's existence in the wild is as precarious as this, requires us to learn as much about it as possible. In order to preserve this species forever. We must keep them in captivity. Period. Wether or not we approve of that activity, is irrelevant.

If you need justification for keeping indigos in captivity, look no further than the issue of global warming. I think we can all agree that this phenomena is real, and for whatever reason, seems to be getting worse. Do we know the extent of how this issue will effect this species? No we don't. But it seems very clear to me, that as this problem increases, and is compounded by habitat destruction, and fragmentation, sooner or later, indigos will be in real trouble in the wild. It is not entirely outside the realm of possibility, that as temperatures continue to rise, that indigos will not be able to cope. They simply cannot take the heat. And if ground temperatures rise too far, too deep, they are done. If I have learned one thing about indigos, Ive learned that they simply can't take the heat. So you see the importance of maintaining a captive population.

It is imperative that we maintain a healthy, diverse, captive gene pool. And in order for this to occur, we must promote indigos in captivity. We must collaborate with one another, on every level. We cannot afford to allow narrow minded people to stop us from doing what is right. We made this mess, and now we must try and fix it. Stopping private individuals from keeping indigos in captivity is not the way to go. Keeping the private sector gene pool separate from the zoo/university gene pool is not the way to go. Getting together, promoting this species, and protecting this species is.

We need stronger legislation to protect wild populations from developers. If a person has enough money/political power, they can bulldoze indigo/gopher tortoise habitat. What happens to the animals that live there? Are they collected, and distributed to zoos, universities, or private collectors? Please tell us. We'd all like to know! And we all need to step up to the plate, and contribute to programs which aim to purchase, and conserve habitat. We need to allow volunteers to monitor, and record wild populations, and temperatures below ground. We may not be able to stop global warming. It may already be too late. But we CAN controll the temperatures in our zoos, universities, and snake rooms at home. I believe that it's not even a question. We just have to do it. Period. And if we love the animals with which we work, and we develope a relationship with them, and we learn from that experience, what is the downside? There is none.
Old 12-21-2005, 12:54 PM   #2
I agree with you that we should keep indigos (and pretty much all snakes) in captivity for a variety of reasons, but I would disagree that we made the mess and now have to clean it up. It is true that a lot of people in power do not want us to keep snakes, and I don't think they're ever going to be convinced that we should. The best solution would be to get rid of them (democratically, of course).
Old 12-23-2005, 03:20 PM   #3
Well, maybe not you and I, but man kind in general has screwed up the natural habitat, and most likely the captive gene pool. And we, the voting public, have put the powers that be where they are. And we, the consumers, have created the marketplace as it is. So we need to get busy, and start paying closer attention to what, and how we do it. Cross breeding of indigos with any other species, should be a crime. Inbreeding of indigos should not be tolerated by the captive breeders. And morphs or mutants which display freakish colors should not be bred. We must never allow the captive indigo gene pool to go the way of the ball python, or the red rat snake, {corn snake}. Let us make sure that we never, ever see a creamsickle, snow, pie ball mutant indigo!

There was a time when I would have considered creating a hybrid texas/eastern. Believe it or not. My thinking was that it would create a new species, free from government regulation and control. An indigo which could be had by anyone, anywhere, without any government involvement. But having worked with this species, and seeing what it takes to obtain breeding success, understanding the challenges faced by the captive population and the wild population,...I now know better.

So what must we do then? First we must organize. Next we must vote. Next we must pressure the powers that be for better legislation. And we must educate people, and win the hearts and minds of folks like Angela Williams. They need to know that we, the captive indigo community, isn't going away, and that we do care about the fate of this species as a whole. They need to know that these animals are much more than just exotic pets. In this house at least, they are family members. And when the last wild indigo is gone, all we'll have left is the captive population. We simply must do better. And people who are opposed to keeping indigos in captivity need to get over it.
Old 12-24-2005, 04:16 AM   #4
I agree with the spirit of what you are saying, I just don't think that trying to pressure the government for "better legislation" is going to do anybody any good. I DO NOT think that legislation is the route that anybody wants to go for several reasons:
1) Politicians (and people in general) are pretty ignorant when it comes to snakes as a whole, and that's not really likely to change any time soon. I seriously talk up snakes to people that I've never met every day, and some fraction of those probably walk away at least thinking that they aren't quite as evil as they'd thought previously, but even if people don't hate them, most are just indifferent. A small fraction of people I run into actually like snakes, and even fewer actually know something about them, and not even all of them understand why somebody like me would actually want to keep them. This kind of a subject is honestly too complex, esoteric, and arcane for politicians to handle, and it is immensely more popular (and a lot easier) to just ban them outright once you have the restriction ball rolling than to create some system to manage a population of captive snakes that the majority of people don't give a hoot about.
2) Legislation doesn't always do what you want it to do.
3) Believe it or not, the hybrid issue is a little fuzzy if you extend it to the entire genus. There was a rather intense discussion on Kingsnake a while back about blacktail/unicolor hybrids that got pulled. I don't know if you saw it or not, but there is some non-academic debate over exactly what constitutes a "pure" example of either variety (if indeed there is such a thing). That's kind of a gray area, and should not be legislated to my mind. Even Eastern/Texan hybrids would be difficult to control through "the system" because of difficulties in identifying and proving the hybrid status of a snake.
4) I'm just not really into the government controlling any facet of my private life, thank you very much.
5) In short, its easier to make the problem go away than to deal with it, and that's the view that I think legislators in a lot of places will take.

PLEASE do not put that kind of a bug in politicians' ears, if you know any personally. I think you'll have a lot better success by educating folks, choosing good people to sell to (its not like the supply of indigos is greater than demand or anything), and talk to the people you sell to and make sure they know why it is such a very bad idea to hybridize and inbreed. Lots of people really will get it, I promise. You'll do more for the species that way than the Big Brother route.
Old 12-24-2005, 04:29 PM   #5
You make a very good argument. And believe me,...I don't relish the thought of big brother sticking his nose into my business either. Another BIG pet peev of mine is stupid herp laws, being passed by ignorant politicians! So perhaps I'll have to change my approach on this issue, and side with your approach of educating the folks that I sell to. But,...What if we indigo breeders were to draw up a sales contract for people to sign, stipulating not to hybridize, or cross breed this species. Then perhaps if they went ahead and did it, we, the breeders association could file a law suit against that person. If they sign a legal and binding contract prior to the purchase, they might be less likely to do the evil deed. I realize that it would be difficult to bring about any civil/legal repercussions to that party, after the fact. But they may think twice before hand, where as now, there is nothing to discourage such activity but peer pressure, and education prior to the sale. I think that anyone who would cross an indigo with anything else, should know that there is at least the possibility of consequences. How does that sound?
Old 12-24-2005, 04:47 PM   #6
P.S. I'm not extending this idea to the rest of the drymarchon subs. Just texans, and easterns. To encompass the entire genus would open a whole new can of worms! Then we could go on and on at infinitum. Ball pythons, boas, retics, red rat snakes, or what used to be red rat snakes, and etc. I'm against all cross breeding, and I frown heavily on all these other mutations. Personally, I won't breed anything, unless I'm absolutely convinced that both male and female represent the same subspecies. In other words if I'm breeding black tails, believe me, both animals will have BLACK tails! But the one battle I choose to fight is the one concerning the cross breeding of texas indigos, and eastern indigos, with any other subspecies, or species. I think that's the only one we even have a snowball's chance with. And it's probably a great deal more important, for what should be obvious reasons. Herbivorous,...I like talking with you. I suspect we would agree on a few other subjects as well. This is good. Stick around and help Jeff keep me in line! Go bring some more dry guys over here too.
Old 12-25-2005, 04:07 PM   #7
Originally Posted by thesnakeman
She has flat out told me that she does not understand why anyone would want to keep an indigo in captivity, and she has expressed her personal disapproval of persons doing so. Hence, the EXTREME difficulty, near impossibility of obtaining a permit in Fla.
I am in the belief that if this individuals "personal oppinion" is keeping people who have met the proper criteria from obtaining permits for such animals, than She herself may be in violation of some sort of law. These guidelines are laid out by the proper authorities, they are carefully (most times) thought out and planned. I can almost guarantee that Her personal oppinons are not part of this criteria.
Is there some way to prove this individual is hampering the process of obtaining these permits? This I think would be the key to getting at least a little something done about this. She has superiors I would assume. Has it been tried to supercede her authority by going through Her higher chain of command? There are rules and guidelines in place for this, and even the people who make them have to follow them by law, until such a time that they ammend such guidelines.
Most of these guidelines are based on numbers. Numbers that say for example, only X amount of permits may be granted per fiscal year.

I would seek the help of a qualified professional on such issues. In these cases mere peer pressure, or legislative action may just result in nothing. I am by no means a pro with this kind of stuff, but being involved in wildlife rescue, and on occasion helping with the reintroduction of captured endangered species, I do manage to pick up a thing or two.

My $0.025

Old 12-28-2005, 03:13 AM   #8
(hopefully this appears where I intended it to as a reply to the message on the 24th)
Likewise, Tony.
I do think the contract idea is the better of the two for a variety of reasons. I'm not breeding Drys yet (at least not for a couple more years), but I've been thinking about drawing up some sort of general code of conduct for people that buy anything from me, be it as common as a crested gecko or whatever, to ensure that the buyer knows what they are getting themselves into and the level of care that they will be required to provide. Even if it is somewhat difficult to enforce, having someone commit on paper to providing a high standard of care (and ethical breeding) at least starts them off in the right mindset, as opposed to the increasingly more common "grow everything to breeding size as quickly/cheaply as possible, produce offspring, make $$$" mindset (not that making money is bad, but it seems to be all that drives a lot of people). Yeah, I think that would be a good idea.
Old 12-25-2005, 10:27 PM   #9
Allow me to clarify;...You can probably get a permit if you are a lawyer, or you can afford to hire one, and you agree to use the animal in educational programs. I know of one such lawyer, who has his own permit, but he has expressed no intrest in helping this cause, thus far. His name is Curt Harbsmeir. And while Ms. Williams did say those words to me personally, I was applying for more than a standard permit to possess an indigo. I was applying for permission to build, and operate an Indigo Research, Education, and Conservation Center in Florida. The problem is,... they won't allow multiples of both sexes, or captive breeding. Which was part of the request. However, they never actually said no. What she told me was to fill out and submit the proper form, with a written proposal. Which I did, back in April of this year. I have not heard a word since. And I'm guessing I won't. That way, if they never actually say no, then I have no legal recourse, because I was never actually denied. But the general impression I got from Ms. Williams was that she did not approve of anyone keeping indigos in captivity. On that note, I may be wrong, for which I do apologize, but either way, she is welcome to post an explanation, and answere some questions. So far she has failed to respond to repeated e-mails from me.
Old 12-26-2005, 05:27 AM   #10
Man, that totally sucks!! And a lawyer, who already has such a permit should certainly understand your motive. Education is a valant cause, and He should be more than happy to help. I bet He has one that just sits in it's viv. Not being put to any good use. Simply selfserving IMO.

So, seeing how you are trying for educational, and conservation, have you tried higher channels such as US Fish and Wildlife? Or perhaps they would rather leave it up to each states right to sovereinity.
I wish you luck. Perhaps one day someone will see the good you are trying to do.


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