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Dangerous exotic pets: Snakes

Pythons, boa constrictors, anacondas, and other large snakes should not be kept as pets

  • Most pet snakes are kept in tanks so small they can't even stretch out.

  • This boa constrictor died of injuries incurred from either abandonment or neglect after being found at a Long Island intersection.

Large constrictor snakes like pythons, boa constrictors, and anacondas are powerful wild animals capable of killing an adult human—and they are commonly and legally kept as "pets" throughout the United States.

Allowing private possession of these dangerous reptiles threatens public safety, environmental health, and the welfare of the animals themselves.

Threat to snakes

The majority of reptile owners keep their pets for less than one year. Some animals die due to poor care, while others, including unwanted snakes, may be intentionally released outdoors or escape from poorly secured cages. Requiring specialized expertise and care, many captive constrictor snakes end up suffering from starvation, dehydration, parasites, respiratory infections, mouth rot, and other symptoms of neglect, and there have been many cases of extreme cruelty to these snakes. More on captive snake welfare »

Threat to public safety

Since 1990, 12 people have died from constrictor snake-related incidents in the United States (17 deaths since 1978), and scores of adults and children have been seriously injured during attacks by these deadly predators. Constrictor snakes can attack suddenly and with deadly force, preying on experienced reptile handlers, children living in households where these snakes are kept, or unsuspecting people who encounter someone else’s escaped or released snake. Released or escaped pet pythons, boa constrictors, and anacondas have been found all over the country, where they endanger communities, threaten ecosystems, and in many cases suffer tragic deaths. List of constrictor snake attacks and escapes »

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