Abandonment of exotic pets a growing concern

By | September 19, 2013 at 2:23 pm | No comments | Wildcat News | Tags: , , ,

Posted: Sep 18, 2013 4:44 PM CST Updated: Sep 18, 2013 6:22 PM CST

By Karissa Shatzer –


There have been several stories about exotic animals on the loose in the Midstate. The most recent was a 10-foot python found in York County by a PennDOT worker. It is all part of a much larger trend of people abandoning their exotic pets.

The python in York County is expected to be OK because she is now safe at the Forgotten Friends Reptile Sanctuary, where they take care of peoples’ unwanted exotic pets.

“We’re finding out that we’re getting requests to take in animals of more than one animal a day, so that’s hundreds of animals a year,” Jesse Rothacker of Forgotten Friends said.

But sometimes, instead of giving the animals up for adoption, people abandon them in the wild. It is illegal, and that is what officials believe happened to the python found in York County.

“There’s certainly dozens of abandonment calls that we hear about every year and we’re a small organization,” Rothacker said. “And we’re finding the number one reason folks cannot keep their pet reptile is because it got too big.”

Rothacker also said that releasing exotic pets into the wild is about more than getting in trouble.

“It’s actually harmful to native wildlife. It’s very harmful to your pet,” Rothacker said. “For this guy here, she may have survived through October. She probably wouldn’t have survived through November. She certainly wouldn’t have survived through the winter. So releasing exotic pets in the wild is certainly a death sentence.”

Rothacker’s the best advice is that people do their homework before they take home an exotic pet.

“Some of these boas and pythons are 30 years. Your crocs are maybe 50 years. Your turtles and tortoises maybe 100 to 200 years, so unless you’re planning on leaving your pets to your great-great grand kids, a tortoise may not be the animal for you,” Rothacker said.

Investigators are still trying to figure out how the python got loose in York County.



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