Pythons in containers, Repticon pet expo, Memphis - World Animal Protection

Ball python global trade creates enormous suffering and a hotbed of disease


Millions of wild animals, including Ball pythons, are being captured or born into captivity, to be sold into the multibillion-dollar exotic pet trade, which is having a devastating impact on wildlife populations across the world.

Our ground-breaking report into the Ball python trade sounds the alarm over the animal welfare crisis faced by Africa’s most legally traded live animal.

Wild animals, poached from the wild or bred in captivity, are typically placed in cramped cages under squalid conditions, creating a lethal hotbed of disease, while causing enormous suffering and cruelty.

These findings are featured in a shocking new documentary released today. Worryingly, in just over 45 years, more than three million Ball pythons have been exported from West Africa, to Europe, Asia and the United States.

Ball pythons are among the most popular species in the exotic pet trade. They are widely regarded as being a good ‘starter pet’ because of harmful misperceptions they require little specialised care.

Cassandra Koenen, Global Head of Wildlife not Pets at World Animal Protection, said;

“The trade of Ball pythons as exotic pets is a massive global market that has impacted millions of animals over the last several decades. They are one of the most misunderstood species, these animals suffer cruelly from capture, through to a life of captivity.”

“Whether traded legally or illegally, keeping wild animals as pets is cruel – Ball python sellers in North America and Europe are failing to meet even the minimum care standards for these snakes.

“They are cruelly stuffed into tiny plastic containers lacking the space to move at all and without access to water, shelter or the ability to regulate their body temperature. It’s devastating that sellers have somehow forgotten that these are wild animals, not commodities.”

Despite the best intentions of pet owners, in captivity, Ball pythons live a lifetime in unnatural and stressful conditions. We urge people to pledge not to buy or breed any exotic pets.

Wild animals belong in the wild, not kept as pets

A permanent ban on all wildlife trade is the only proper solution – protecting wild animals in the wild, eliminating animal suffering in captivity will also help to prevent major health epidemics.

The recent outbreak of coronavirus, and regular outbreaks of Salmonella infections highlight how proximity between stressed and injured wildlife and humans can be a dangerous cocktail.

Government action is needed to end the international exotic pet trade, not only for animal welfare and biodiversity, but also to protect human health.

Wild animals belong in the wild, not kept as pets

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