Keeping snake and lizards in Melbourne

It’s very a common misconception that most snakes and reptiles seen in wildlife shows comes from the wild.  Nothing could be futher from the truth.  Usually theyb are taken from collections in captivity and “set up” for the footage.

Most reptiles Snakebusters use are of lineage’s that have been in captivity for generations.

Wildlife and game departments across Australia have long banned the collection of reptiles from the wild for private purposes, including reptile education like what we at Snakebusters does.

Exceptions are corruptly made by wildlife departments who give collect permits to mates to collect, breed and sell various reptiles, which then eventually make their way into the legal pet trade.

The best known example of this was seen when John Weigel got exclusive rights to collect from the wild Rough-scaled Pythons (Rawlingspython carinatus) from the Kimberly in WA to breed and sell.

Being the only person to have the species, he was able to sell offspring for $24,000 a pair and he made a fortune as he sold over 50 pairs.

In time others were also able to breed and sell the species, only from the specimens from Weigel, and they too made some money, but in some cases not even enough to cover their purchase costs.

The reason was that “supply and demand” kicked in and soon lots of people were selling lots of pythons to an ever decreasing market.

In the case of Snakebusters, we bought four for $350 each in 2011, which was just a few short years before Weigel was hocking individuals for $12,000 each to desperate buyers.

Most of the Death Adders owned by Snakebusters comes from stock originally wild caught in the early 1990’s and either legally “declared” during amnesties, or illegally “written onto the books” be people who held some legal stock and then collected more.

As we are several transactions removed from the original wild-collection of the founder snakes, we are not entirely certain of the origins of all our snakes.

A lot of our Australian pythons and fresh water crocodiles derive from NT stock caught legally at various times and allowed into the pet trade by NT NPWS.

In terms our southern species (Tigers, Browns, Copperheads and Blacks), the founder stock for most came from specimens declared in various amnesties for illegally caught snakes in NSW and elsewhere.

Some were wild-caught by snake catchers and legally given or sold to us.

The latter accounts for most of our original Black and Brown Snakes.

Because we breed most species we have, an ever increasing ratio of our reptiles are sourced from being bred in house.

In recent years, we’ve bred all our southern elapid (venomous) snakes, including, Red-bellied Black (at least 3 times), Brown (about 6 times), Tiger (several times), Copperhead (lowlands) twice, and Death Adders several times. Perhaps I should mention that ours are generally “devenomized” even though of venomous species.

Snakebusters snakes end up in collections all over the place, including young snakes sent to private keepers and zoos in all parts of Australia.

Breeding snakes is not always easy. 

In the normal course of events, the snakes are cooled down from their usual temperatures.  Then the sex cycles, including sperm production start. Then the sexes are put together and mating occurs.

Because we at Snakebusters are so busy, the snakes are often artificially inseminated.

This speeds the whole process up.

We were the first in the world to develop an (almost) idiot proof method of breeding snakes and lizards via artificial insemination (AI), and it has now been copied all over the place.

It’s not uncommon to have us finish a busy weekend of snake shows in Melbourne, kids Melbourne reptile parties and then to come home and jerk off male snakes to manually inseminate females and get them pregnant.

This is one of the reasons Snakebusters are consistent leaders when it comes to breeding snakes.

Young venomous snakes generally eat small lizards.  In Melbourne, Victoria, the use of lizards as food for snakes is illegal and so we are forced to use rodents for food.

Small snakes are fed mouse legs and as they grow, they graduate to mice of ever increasing size.

It’s common for young snakes not to want to eat mice, or parts thereof, so we often have to force feed or “assist feed” the snakes for a while, until they “learn” to eat.

With up to 40 baby snakes on hand at a time, it is often a full-time job, just raising babies.

The upside is that when it’s all said and done, we end up with some spectacular snakes, that can then put in a full lifetime doing our hands-on reptile shows, school incursions Victoria, kids reptile parties Melbourne and more.

Assuming the young snakes are also non-venomous or devenomized (venomoid) it means that our snakes never have to suffer pain or suffering from being stick handled for the purposes of public education or entertainment.


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