The Colorado Reptile Humane Society Board of Directors (CoRHS) would like to formally state our position on commercial and hobbyist breeding of reptiles and amphibians.
Here at CoRHS we receive animals every week from a combination of owner surrenders, stray surrenders, and transfers from private and municipal animal welfare organizations. The majority of the animals that we receive are not ready for immediate adoption. Sadly, many of our incoming animals are underfed, dehydrated, unhealthy, injured or some combination thereof. Most find themselves in this state due to a lack of education and/or foresight on the part of their owners.
Colorado Reptile Humane Society does not support the captive breeding of reptiles and amphibians for the purpose of pet ownership. However, we acknowledge the necessity of captive breeding by conservation biologists with the goal of release. Pet trade reptiles and amphibians are genetically wild animals living in captivity. Their captivity is the consequence of a breeding 'project' or the actions of an individual who removed them from the wild.
Only a small percentage of our incoming animals are wild-caught. Most of our surrendered animals are the result of intentional breeding for the pet trade. Our position is if you personally breed animals, then you have an obligation to ensure the care of those animals for the duration of their lives. Most breeders do not acknowledge their responsibility, even if unintentional, for creating unwanted and/or neglected animals.
We at CoRHS do not wish to condemn herpetoculture enthusiasts who have found a love for these oft-maligned creatures and we can appreciate the passion that people who breed an animal can have for that species. Reptiles and amphibians are wonderful, interesting animals. However, it is not uncommon for breeders to send their animals off to unknown fates. A good breeder will take responsibility for their animals.
We implore all herpetoculturists to think carefully about breeding decisions and the plight of captive reptiles and amphibians. Irresponsible breeding further exacerbates the overabundance of reptiles and amphibians in captivity. Before breeding any animal, a prospective breeder should be able to affirmatively answer every point below. This is ultimately what is best for the animals, which should be everyone's highest concern. Responsible breeders ensure the following:
- Assume a lifetime responsibility for the animals that they have bred. Insist that a buyer return the animal to them if they can no longer care for it.
- Educate potential buyers about an animal's specific needs, such as UVB lighting, diet, and ideal temperatures. Ensure that they will provide for an animal's adult housing requirements.
- Screen potential buyers before selling to them. Follow up with your buyers to ensure that the animal is healthy and the buyer is happy.
- Encourage potential buyers to visit your facility and meet adult animals of the species that you have bred. This can allow the buyer to appreciate the housing and care requirements of an adult animal.
- Does not keep more animals than they can provide with the highest level of care, including: space, heat, lighting and handling/socialization. CoRHS does not believe that a rack system provides adequate housing for any animal for any length of time.
- Be familiar with the breeding animals' genetics in order to avoid inbreeding.
- Ensure that your animals are feeding and defecating normally before selling.
- Provide a purchase contract that outlines the breeder's responsibilities, the buyer's responsibilities, health guarantees, and return policy.
- Never sell animals to an animal wholesaler or pet store.
- Accept the return of any animal of your breeding at any time for any reason.
What You Can Do To Help
Think adoption first -- be a part of the solution. There are homeless reptile pets available in every major city in the country, and CoRHS regularly ships animals via same-day flights to approved adopters nationwide. The shelter typically has hundreds of common and not-so-common species. Visit www.corhs.org to view available animals and submit an adoption application online. All available animals are healthy, happy, and ready for their forever homes.
Until each one has a home. Colorado Reptile Humane Society.