Releasing pet snakes into the wild has increasingly become a big problem in the US. Sometimes snakes grow too large, become too expensive to feed, or too dangerous to handle. And for some, releasing the snakes into the wild seems like a viable option, and is done with good intentions. But releasing a captive snake into the wild can be cruel, as well as illegal.
Having been raised by humans, these reptiles have little to no survival skills and can succumb quickly to the harsh environmental elements that are foreign to them. They can wind up dying—from exhaustion or starvation, getting hit by vehicles, or being killed by a predator.
If the snake does survive, it can become known as an invasive species, if it’s in a non-native environment. This can have serious implications for the greater ecosystem. Invasive species can cause problems by preying on native plants and animals, competing for limited resources, or by introducing parasites and diseases not normally found in the area.
So what are the alternatives?
- Find a reptile rescue shelter that can care for the snake and find it a home
- Contact the store or snake’s breeder to discuss returning it or having them help you find a home
- Talk to local zoos—they may be able to house the snake
- Search online for people looking to adopt a reptile
- Contact your vet for recommendations or assistance
Choosing one of these alternatives will protect your local ecosystem and the native species in it, as well as helping your snake live a long, healthy life.