By Russell Piffer
When there’s a tragedy involving an exotic animal, like the strangulation of two New Brunswick boys by an escaped python, ignorance is often at the root, according to a Leduc animal expert.
“Usually, the case of when a bigger snake does get out is, the owner doesn’t realize the strength,” said Doug Klooster, owner of Leduc’s Tamarijn Exotics, which has a collection of tarantulas, scorpions, snakes, reptiles and other animals.
“Like, Crush [Klooster’s boa\, that’s 10 feet, 52 pounds of pure muscle. It can exert a lot of force to break out if it wants to,” he said.
Klooster said pet owners don’t always educate themselves about caring for an exotic animal before making their purchase. Sellers, particularly pet stores, often fail to provide accurate information about the animal or ensure that the buyer fully knows what they’re getting into before making a sale.
“Before you buy, take some time and educate yourself and go to some reliable sources first… you can’t rely on the stores or anybody like that to tell you,” he said.
Klooster said he was once in a pet store when he overheard a staff member tell a shopper interested in buying a Central American boa that the snake would only reach a six-foot length.
“I stepped in and said, ‘no you’re wrong. You need to read. That thing’s going to get 9-12 feet,’” he said. Six months down the road, it’s pushing 6-7 feet, it’s fairly big around and she’s like ‘what do I do with this?’ So now, what happens? It shows up at he SPCA. It goes to the Edmonton Reptile Society or it gets abused or whatever. There’s such poor, poor education in the pet trade as a general thing, it’s terrible.”
Exotic animals in Alberta are regulated by the provincial Wildlife Act. The African rock python, the species responsible for the New Brunswick deaths, is not legal without a permit. Neither are other large or poisonous snake species, crocodiles, alligators, certain poisonous lizards such as Gila monsters and insects that could potentially become invasive species. More....