Snakes: better watched in movies than kept as pets. Pete the Vet on TV3’s Ireland AM

To watch the video of this vet spot, click on the link at the foot of this page

The new Jumanji movie, titled Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, starring Jack Black and others, has just been released, and today on Ireland AM, I brought in a jungle-themed creature,  a 12 foot long Burmese Python
The theme of the movie is that four teenagers go into the jungle after discovering an old video game console. They are literally drawn into the game’s jungle setting, becoming the adult avatars they chose.
This was the cue to discuss the topic of keeping exotic “jungle” type creatures as pets.

I brought in a 7 year old male python called Ka – he’s a Burmese Python and he’s eleven foot long, but he is tame and harmless.
I brought him in previously, during the summer, when we were doing a specific piece on snakes.
He is a dramatic looking creature,  fed on adult rabbits – he needs to eat one every three weeks. These are bought deep-frozen from pet shops.

My first point today was that  NOBODY should give ANY type of pet as snakesa present at Christmas

  • It’s a bad time of year – people are distracted with other happenings – and it casts pets in the same light as toys, to be put away in the cupboard when bored
  • Pets cannot be put away in the cupboard – any pet is for life, not just for Christmas
  • So if you are considering a pet as a present, change your mind: instead, give pet accessories (collar, lead, tank, whatever) with the pet to follow after Christmas when you have more time and space

exotic pets are generally best left in the wild, where they belong

Jungle-type pets can be fascinating, attention grabbing creatures that are popular, but that they are more to do with being “trophy pets” rather than suitable pets
The best pets, generally, are animals that have been domesticated for many generations
Examples include dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice,gerbils, hamsters, budgies and goldfish
All of these creatures – and others too – have been familiarised with close contact with humans for many years and they have been selectively bred to be placid, easy-going animals that are easily tamed.
There are many other animals that are marketed as pets, but I would see them more as a specialist hobby than as a normal pet.

Of course, they can be kept properly and can make good pets, but it’s not always straight forward

  • They tend to be a lot of work
  • They often suffer from welfare issues because their new owners don’t know enough about them, or aren’t properly prepared for them.
  • If they fall ill, it’s best to take them to a vet with a special interest in them (e.g. Bairbre O’Malley in Bray: www.veterinary.ie ).
  • All vets are trained in the basics of all animals, but it makes sense to go to see someone who sees these unusual specimens on a daily basis.
  • Disadvantages of exotic pet keeping include human health and safety, animal health and welfare, conservation and ecological health.

My main message is that for most people, it’s best to enjoy looking at these exotic types of creatures on tv and at the zoo (or in movies) but if you want a pet to enjoy, choose one of the old reliables.

To watch the video, click on the link below

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