Among the numerous reptiles showcased at the Westmoreland Reptile Expo, Jesse Freeman from Asheboro, NC, particularly adores alligators. While acknowledging their potential danger, Freeman believes that with a proper understanding of their behavior, it is possible to interact with them. However, he is aware that not everyone can accommodate such pets, especially considering the space required for crocodiles. This insight leads him to suspect that exotic pets sometimes get loose, such as with the recent sightings of alligators in the Kiski River area since August.
Freeman explains that people often purchase baby alligators, but when they realize they cannot handle the responsibility, they release them into the wild instead of finding them appropriate homes. He views this as a grave error and condemns such actions. The Kiski River incident resulted in the capture of an alligator named Chomper, who was subsequently transferred to Nate’s Reptile Rescue in Pittsburgh. Another alligator, named Neo, was spotted in the river on September 3. Neo’s owner, Austin Randall Neo, claimed he lost the alligator while attempting to return it to its home. Another individual, Dominic Hayward, also had multiple alligators seized from his property in October. Hayward currently remains in jail after being arrested by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
These sightings have prompted state Rep. AB Major, R-60th District, to take legislative action, proposing stricter penalties for the negligent or intentional release of exotic animals. These repeated incidents have become a source of concern for Dave Schultz, a representative for breeders of various reptiles. He believes that some individuals may seek attention by releasing alligators, and he finds the situation regrettable. Schultz advises that local zoos and animal parks are equipped to provide care for exotic animals whose owners can no longer manage them.
Jesse Freeman, due to his connections with zoos and rescue facilities, is able to help owners find new homes for their exotic pets. He emphasizes that there are always alternatives to releasing them into the wild, provided that owners are responsible. Freeman personally urges buyers of baby alligators to return them if they feel overwhelmed by the responsibility. He even offers his business cards to facilitate the process.
For Daniel Benner and Tim Barnhart Jr., owning exotic pets is akin to having companions. Benner purchased a bearded dragon from Dave Schultz and named it M as a tribute to his late best friend. Barnhart, a lover of reptiles from Somerset, appreciates their calming effect and finds comfort in their presence. While he owns several reptiles, Barnhart steers clear of large and potentially dangerous animals like venomous snakes and alligators.
Considering the specific needs of exotic pets, individuals like Benner emphasize the importance of research and commitment. Benner’s bearded dragon, for example, requires a large enclosure and a varied diet consisting of crickets, fruits, vegetables, and mealworms. Preventative measures like handwashing to combat salmonella are crucial. Benner recognizes that many people underestimate the responsibilities involved in caring for exotic pets, and this lack of awareness can lead to neglect.
Cody Wilson, who has been involved in the exotic pet industry with his family for over a decade, advises owners to consult with vendors at Reptile Expos if they find themselves unable to care for their pets. Wilson believes that rehoming within the community is a better solution than leaving the animals to suffer. Reputable breeders and vendors, like Hill Top for Babies in Morgantown, W.Va, are willing to provide assistance in finding proper care for these animals.
In conclusion, the article highlights the voices of breeders and owners defending the ownership of exotic pets. Their emphasis lies in responsible care and finding suitable homes for these animals instead of recklessly releasing them into the wild. It serves as a reminder that owning exotic pets requires extensive knowledge, commitment, and awareness of the animals’ unique needs.
Q: Why do some owners release their exotic pets?
A: Some owners release their exotic pets when they realize they cannot handle their care or responsibilities.
Q: What actions have been taken regarding the release of exotic animals?
A: State Rep. AB Major, R-60th District, has introduced legislation to increase penalties for the negligent or intentional release of exotic animals.
Q: How can owners find new homes for their exotic pets?
A: Breeders and vendors at Reptile Expos, as well as local zoos and animal parks, can help owners find suitable homes for their exotic pets.
Q: What should people consider before owning exotic pets?
A: Potential owners need to thoroughly research the specific needs, requirements, and responsibilities involved in caring for exotic pets.