(8/7/13): A terrible tragedy involving the deaths of two young boys in Canada deeply saddens the reptile keeping community. We extend our deepest sympathies to the family of the victims. While the full facts of the incident have not yet been released, it would appear that the culprit could be a large (14 feet) African rock python which allegedly carried out a random and unprovoked attack on the two children as they slept. Until further information is available, speculation as to the circumstances of this tragedy would not be appropriate. The parents, friends and relatives of the boys have suffered an appalling loss and an investigation which reflects the serious nature of these events will no doubt ensue.
While this is a tragic event, it is important that attacks by snakes are viewed from the proper perspective. Fatalities from reptiles are rare, which is confirmed by accident and emergency statistics that show reptiles among the safest pets. While maintaining the proper perspective is very difficult during this trying time, a loss of perspective will lead to the persecution of responsible reptile keepers and may lead to a call for disproportionate restrictions on the ownership of these animals. In the United States, over 4.6 million households keep an estimated 13.6 million reptiles as pets with miniscule occurrences of sickness or death. Less than .45 (less than one half of one) deaths per year are attributed to constricting snakes in the United States.
We are a group of people representing all aspects of reptile keeping and pet industry advocacy. It is because of our appreciation for reptiles, and the tremendous enjoyment we see hobbyists derive from their bond with these amazing animals, that we solidify our commitment to the proper keeping of reptiles. We urge everyone in the reptile world to do the same and become educated about proper handling techniques and safety protocols. Educate others how to minimize the already-small risk involved in keeping reptiles and promote responsible pet ownership. Our association with reptiles is too important to be placed in jeopardy by irresponsible reptile keepers.
Bill Brant, The Gourmet Rodent
John Mack, Reptiles by Mack
Grant Crossman - ReptilesCanada.com CRBE
Dan and Colette Sutherland, TSK Inc.
Brian Potter, NARBC and Chicago Reptile House
Bob Ashley, NARBC and ECO
Phil Goss, USARK
Kevin McCurley, New England Reptile Distributors, Inc.
Mike Canning, PIJAC
Chad Brown and Robyn Markland, ShipYourReptiles and The Reptile Report
Marshall Meyers, PIJAC
Scott Hardin, PIJAC and FLRAA Executive Director
Shawn Heflick, Shawn Heflick Reptiles, Inc.
Michael Cole, Ballroom Pythons South and FLRAA Vice President
Jeff Barringer, Kingsnake.com
Eugene Bessette, Ophiological Services
Marc Cantos, The Turtle Source
Kenneth Oh, PIJAC