Expanded Keepers’ and Breeders’ Ethics Discussion

Breeder/Seller

  1. Know and follow all applicable laws where you live or travel to with animals. State, county, and municipal laws, regulations, and ordinances can be more restrictive than federal laws and regulations. Be sure you know and follow all laws that could impact keeping, selling, and transporting the species you work with.
  2. Remain current on updated husbandry knowledge. Expect that the best information available may change over time.
  3. Be familiar with the veterinarians near you who treat the species that you keep, before you need them.
  4. Ensure that your animals are displayed in clean, hygienic, appealing displays, whether in person, or in photos.
  5. Engage with interested parties in a civil, professional manner. They may be prospective buyers, or members of the public getting their first glance at captive reptiles and amphibians. This especially applies when communicating with legislators.
  6. Understand that you and your animals are ambassadors for herpetoculture. Additionally, the way you present them, and yourself, reflects upon the entire herpetocultural community.
  7. Screen prospective buyers for their experience in keeping the species of interest, or related species. Inquire of their knowledge of any applicable laws where they live regarding the species you are selling.
  8. Ensure that persons under 18 years of age do not purchase species of large constrictor snakes, crocodilians, or venomous animals. Anyone under the age of 18 purchasing animals should be accompanied by and have the full guidance and consent of an informed, responsible adult with whom he/she lives.
  9. Inquire of prospective buyers’ knowledge of the husbandry needs of the species of interest, its longevity, mature size, and costs to keep its needs met, in appropriate welfare conditions. Ensure that buyers are adequately prepared to house and care for animals they seek to purchase from you. Provide yourself as a resource, and/or direct the buyer to reputable sources of care information for the animal they purchase from you.
  10. When shipping and transporting animals, procedures which are safe, humane, and secure must always be followed.
  11. Sell responsibly!
  12. Animals requiring specialized housing and handling, such as very large or active lizards and snakes, venomous animals, giant tortoises, crocodilians, or even smaller, more delicate species of geckos or chameleons, for example, must be considered only for sale only to demonstrably competent and capable buyers who are already knowledgeable and equipped to care for the animal immediately following purchase.
  13. Find your nearest local herpetological society, and get involved.
  14. Before deciding to breed your animals, evaluate the market for them. Questions to research include:
    1. How large is the market?
    2. Is the species commonly available?
    3. How difficult would it be for the average keeper to provide humane care for the species?
    4. Is there adequate interest to support the animals you would produce through breeding?

Keeper/Buyer

  1. Know and follow all applicable laws where you live or travel to with animals. State, county, and municipal laws, regulations, and ordinances can be more restrictive than federal laws and regulations. Be sure to know and follow all laws that could impact keeping, selling, and transporting the species you work with.
  2. Research species you are interested in keeping well in advance to a potential purchase. Be sure that you are familiar with the longevity, mature size, costs to keep, and proper humane care of animals you might acquire. Be certain that you understand the housing (caging, substrate, hides, perches, humidity, temperature, and temperature control devices), nutritional (feeding and lighting), and social needs (i.e. if individual housing is required) of any species you consider prior to purchase.
  3. Know the veterinarians near you who treat the species that you intend to keep, before you need them.
  4. Seek out breeders and people selling animals who make a point of presenting their animals in a positive, healthy, and hygienic manner.
  5. Seek out breeders and people selling animals who behave in a professional manner which represents herpetoculture in a positive light.
  6. Stay informed on the species you keep; as time goes on and people learn more, the best available information may change. Be observant of your animals’ behavior and health.
  7. Understand that you and your animals are ambassadors for herpetoculture. Additionally, the way you present them reflects upon the entire herpetocultural community.
  8. Do not impose your animals on members of the public unannounced.
  9. If you can engage in meaningful, positive outreach that helps dispel fear of reptiles and amphibians, please do so. If you have never participated in outreach, collaborate with someone who has, and discuss various ways to address others’ fears beforehand.
  10. Find your nearest local herpetological society, and get involved.

Article written by USARK