Home > law, philosophy, regulation > Don’t Ban Pet Snakes

Don’t Ban Pet Snakes

Here is a letter to the Palm Beach Post:

Michael Markarian wants the federal government to take a cue from a 2010 Florida law “making it illegal to breed, sell or keep most large constrictor snakes as pets” in the wake of a 2-year-old tragically strangled to death by a python in 2009 (Florida toddler death shows need to ban snake pet trade, July 21).  The parents were recently convicted for failing to protect the toddler, and the law must remain vigilant in the face of negligence.

However, if this latest tragedy is any indication (the python was in a poorly secured cage), the focus should be the responsibility of pet owners – not the prohibition of pet snakes.  The personal responsibility accompanying choice of pet ownership should fall to the individual, not the government.  Since instances of large dogs mauling children to death occurred in the past, should we make it illegal to own a large dog?  Even if owning a pet snake is outlawed at the federal level, what is Mr. Markarian’s suggestion for all snakes currently owned as pets?

Since it is not in their nature to attack humans, deaths by python asphyxiation are rare.  Perhaps it is not wise to own large cold-blooded reptiles that strangle their prey in the same residence as young children, but who needs a law to regulate common sense?  Mr. Markarian’s appeals for federal legislation banning snake ownership are undoubtedly well intended, but it remains unclear as to how any new law will prevent future tragedies.


Craig D. Schlesinger

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