Family: Boidae (Boas and Pythons)
of 4-6 feet with a heavy girth.
Native to Western Africa where they are captured and exported in numbers averaging
92,129 per year from 1990 to 1998 (Reptiles Magazine, March 2002 pg 54) annually for the pet trade in the U.S. alone.
They are also being exported in increasingly larger numbers to Asian markets as food.
The number of snakes being imported
has two major effects. The first is that the wild population is being rapidly depleted. The article written by Dave and Tracy
Barker, refered to in the previous paragraph states that the numbers being imported signigicantlly dropped in 2001.
The exporters in Africa have been unable to collect enough ball pythons to match the totals of previous years. The second
is that they are brought over in such abundance that the price is kept so low that they are seen as expendible or worthless
to many people in the pet trade.
Another side effect of the price of wild-caught specimens being so inexpensive is
that there is little monetary motivation for any captive breeding except in the case of expensive color morphs. With native
populations dwindling this could soon be different story.
Those who do go through the trouble to breed in captivity
do so only for the love of the species. Until the importing of the Royal/Ball python is stopped, as Europe did in 1997, this
will continue for the trend. At some point the wild population will become depleted to the point where either it will become
harder to collect in enough numbers and the trade will die out or the species will be placed on the endangered list and will
be protected. It is my hope that the U.S. will limit the importation of this species before either of those options become
I'm not against the limited collection of animals for the pet trade. What I am against is the total destruction
of the wild population. If the exporters in Africa were intelligent they would limit themselves. If they did this
then the price for the snakes that they collect would go up. They wouldn't be losing any money. This would be
much similiar to the way that OPEC countries limit their production of oil to keep prices high. If something doesn't
change soon, and the wild population continues to be dessimated, they won't have anything to export.