So, here's the deal:
1) This afternoon, Spooky learned that here in the Great State of Georgia it is illegal to keep any non-venomous
native snake species as a pet. Hence, Drinker was illicit. I was aghast and refused to believe this was true until she showed me a number of pertinent websites. Being relatively new to Georgia, I had no idea. But, remember, here in Georgia, dildos are illegal, gay sex and marriage are illegal, you can't buy booze on Sunday, and clit piercings are illegal. So it should come as no suprise that keeping a DeKay's brown snake can get you jail time and/or a hefty fine. However...
2) While it is illegal to keep any non-venomous
native snake species as a pet, it is perfectly legal to keep venomous
local species. Just not venomous non-native
species. Canebrake rattlers are a go; black mambas, that's a no-no. Near as I can tell, this came about sometime in the '90s as an attempt to stop poaching of reptile species on the Federal Endangered Species List, most notably the Eastern Indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi
), which had been driven from much of its former range by ruthless commercial collectors. By the way, the ban extends to pretty much every native non-ophidian reptile species — lizards, tortoises, and crocodilians — as well as local amphibians. To my knowledge, the only other state where it is illegal to keep Dekay's brown snakes is Iowa (there known as the "Midland brown snake").
3) In its infinite fucking anthropocentric wisdom, Georgia Law
does not protect "poisonous species...because of their status as a nuisance or other reason." Freshwater turtles are also cited as a "nuisance" and not granted protection.
4) I am a staunch supporter of laws that protect species which are endangered, threatened or at risk, and I am a rabid proponent of habitat protection. But the law in question, while more or less well-meaning, is inconsistent and manages to, as they are wont to say, "toss the baby out with the bath water." The same reasoning and ethics that dictates that non-venomous species must be protected should obviously extend to venomous species as well. Whether or not a species poses a threat to humans should not (and generally is no longer) the criterion that determines whether it should be granted protected status. Also, there is no law prohibiting the keeping of non-native non-venomous species. So, I could keep a Sonoran kingsnake, for example. Hell, I could keep ten. Never mind the threat from escaped specimens establishing breeding populations and supplanting local species that occupy the same or similar ecological niches (see the State of Florida). Also, it has been my experience that children who keep reptiles as pets tend to grow up free of the irrational fear of snakes that leads to so many unnecesary reptile deaths. Also, domestic cats — a major threat to local reptile populations — run free. You will recall, Drinker was rescued from a cat.
5) Regardless of the rampant stupidity at work here, not wishing to wind up in the pokey or fined, we contacted an acquaintance at AWARE (Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort)
. We explained the situation, that the snake had been rescued from a cat, but was now alert and eating and had pretty much healed. We were thinking perhaps we should turn Drinker over to Southeastern Reptile Rescue
, as they have an amnesty program. However, our acquaintance at AWARE said it would be sufficient to release Drinker ourselves. He even recommended an ideal spot nearby, at the northern edge of Candler Park, away from people, cars, and (hopefully) most of the local free-range cats.
6) After I was done writing for the day (about 6 p.m., I think), we slipped Drinker into my handy professional snakebag (ie, a pillowcase) and walked with him to Candler Park (dodging joggers, dog walkers, and golfers). We found a nice leafy spot beneath the trees, said our good-byes, and sent herhim slithering on herhis way. I would not have thought it possible I could become so attached to a snake in just five days, but there you go. At least we know we saved herhim from being a snack for an already well-fed housecat. I have the empty shell of the first snail shehe ate while in our care; herhis face will be sorely missed.
7) We took photos (behind the cut) on the walk, most of which have nothing to do with releasing Drinker (warning, squirrel gore):( Collapse )
Okay. I'm exhausted and disgusted. I think I'm gonna go drink some good tequila and sodomize myself with an illegal sex toy....