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Reptile & Amphibian
News Blog
Keep up with news and features of interest to the reptile and amphibian community on the blog. We cover breaking stories from the mainstream and scientific media, user-submitted photos and videos, and feature articles and photos by Jeff Barringer, Richard Bartlett, and other herpetologists and herpetoculturists.

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Rhode Island moves to ban Pythons, Boas and more

By Jeff Barringer
Wed, January 25 2012 at 11:28

Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)

A bunch of bs..yall need to get a life and leave ours alone
#1 seth on 2012-01-25 13:52 (Reply)
Here is the reply i have posted on several RI websites broadcasting this story. As an R.I. resident I felt obligated to respond.

Hopefully it does more good than harm, as I chose my words carefully. My comment about the size of balls, rosies and natives, maybe should be taken with a grain of salt, but it's to raise a point.

The person who got in trouble for snakes was in possession of venomous snakes. Laws already exist making venomous snakes illegal. The other snakes in his possession were not dangerous and none of the snakes had caused harm to any person and I do not recall reading anything about the animals not being properly cared for therefore human nor animal was in danger from the legal snakes. I believe they stated the remainder of the snakes would be returned to the owner, meaning there was nothing illegal about them.

For public knowledge boas, pythons, alligators and crocodiles are not venomous.

And a call to the pet owning public please stop doing stupid illegal things ruining it for the rest of us that obey the law.

I cannot recall the last time or anytime I turned on the news and saw a report of a person being attacked or shot by a snake on the streets in Rhode Island. Yet everyday people are shot on our streets, homes are invaded and we can still own guns. Way too often people are attacked and mauled by dogs, but people can still own them.

I personally have been bitten 3 times by dogs in the state of Rhode Island, but have yet to be attacked by a snake or alligator. I have a deep fear of dogs and rightly so. Every time I pass a dog I wonder if I will be bitten again.

Rhode Island recently passed laws requiring permits for large reptiles that are considered dangerous. Those laws do exactly what this senator is trying to accomplish, they keep dangerous reptiles out of the average persons hands. I have no problem with a person needing a permit to own a large python, boa, alligator or crocodile, especially when it's just for the cool factor or to watch them eat and if the state is doing their job permits won't be issued to people that cannot properly house and care for these large reptiles and in my opinion most people desiring these would not qualify to own them, all well and good. But no consideration is given to Ball Pythons and Rosy Boas, that would also be outlawed by this ban and have the reputation as the best pet snakes for their docile nature and small size (3'-4') (smaller than most snakes native to Rhode Island). Yes people we have lots of native snakes roaming our state. My dad easily finds half a dozen a year in his pool.

It frustrates me when people who have no education concerning these matters try to pass bills just because of political agenda trying to gain the spotlight. If this senator or one of his family members have been personally injured or attacked by one of these reptiles, then state that as a reason other than just because I think so.

Never mind the fact that the environment in the state of Rhode Island would never allow exotic reptiles to survive outside of captive environments for more than a few months in the summer each year. Yes all reptiles proposed in the ban are exotic coming from tropical environments.

The fact that there is no guideline set about for people who currently own these pets to be grandfathered in is kind of crazy. What is the sate going to do if they suddenly have hundreds and possibly thousands of pet snakes turned into the humane society? Kill them? Oh wait it is called euthanasia to be politically correct, but that cost money too. Or are people just expected to let them loose into the wild? What about about the pet shops that already have these animals in stock? Is the state going to spend hundreds or even thousands and possibly millions of dollars to go and police and fine these stores, never mind the lawsuits because yesterday they weren't illegal but today they are? This bill was obviously poorly constructed and short sited.

I have spent my life working with reptiles, amphibians and fish and have always done my best to properly educate people on the responsibility and care of these exotic animals that make interesting and rewarding pets.

Is this really something the state has time and money to spend on with all the problems we are having? What about people in the state that make a living and feed their families selling and breeding these smaller boas and pythons that currently require no permit? I guess there is always EBT and WIC.

I just don't understand how this is going to make things safer for people and animals. If anything I see it causing more harm from underground and illegal activities involving animals that should not be ban. This is an industry that has existed in this state and country for a long time, it would be like prohibition, which by the way didn't work. Maybe if for every snake turned in a gun was taken off the streets, then the law might make a difference and make people safer.

I just can't wait for a senator to propose a bill that is going to improve our economy or generate jobs in the state of Rhode Island. Now that would be something!

I have over 30 years experience with reptiles, so If there is any way I can help to shed light and truth on this matter with knowledge that comes with that experience I would be more than happy to help. I have no reason to conceal who I am and letting people know who may remember me I have worked in some of R.I.'s most famous pet shops, such as Tuffy's Aquarium in Warwick and the Warehouse Aquarium in Johnston. I can be e-mailed at

Thank you,

Jason Oneppo
#2 Jason Oneppo on 2012-01-25 19:18 (Reply)
Hi Jason, Thanks for your insight into this matter and Jeff thanks for posting this. I've been keeping reptiles about 20yrs, breeding bearded dragons about 13-14yrs, and I do have a small collection of colubrids and ball pythons.
I think this is a big waste of tax payer money! There are cities going bankrupt (Central Falls, Pawtucket, West Warwick). Schools are closing, teachers getting fired, people losing jobs, homes. Need I go on.
But in the middle of this we have a bunch of idiot politicians, (probably paying 15% taxes, and living like fatcats), who overlook the most important issues, and are willing to pay for legislation on unnecessary rules for pets. When did we start having a problem? It's about 20 degrees outside. I think that's regulation enough? Idiot's!
#2.1 Gina Gauvin on 2012-01-25 22:29 (Reply)
I cant agree with you more, Jason. I live in southern Rhode Island and have been breeding ball pythons and Leopard Geckos since 2005. I have been keeping these reptiles since 2002. As they get older and with more handling they will get more docile, after about one year old they won't even go into a "ball" for me. Lets also realize that their main defense is in its name, "BALL PYTHON", when they are young their defense is to "BALL" their bodies around their head to protect itself from harm. Before I got my ball pythons I was afraid of snakes. My mother in law, my wife and my mother were also keen on snakes until I would let them hold the babies I hatched out. I am saddened by these ignorant politicians who obviously have done no research. I agree with them banning crocodiles. I agree with the current law needing a permit for the larger pythons that grow to 15-30 feet, but a Ball Python? Males get 3-4 feet and females get 4-5 feet, after that they get rounder at the belly, but won't get any longer. I also do not agree with banning Boa Constrictors. I just cant fathom banning THE most docile snake I have EVER held. In my personal opinion the Ball Python is the best beginner snake, hands down. I have been struck at more from a corn snake than a Ball Python. My wife and I do this for a hobby, because we love watching little baby Leo's and baby Ball Pythons hatch out, not to mention the endless possibilities in the creation of morphs. I don't think I put this much effort into anything I have ever done until I came across the Ball Python in an issue of REPTILES magazine. I have out to much money and time for this to happen because some IDIOT didn't obey the law on venomous reptiles in Rhode Island, leave the venomous to PROFESSIONALS! I am also a bronze member of U.S.A.R.K. and will continue to be a bronze member even if I am no longer able to keep the reptiles I love.
#2.2 carl cantrell (Homepage) on 2012-01-28 00:16 (Reply)
What a bunch of Jerks!
This country is really getting bad!
More and more rights are being taken away from us. No one should have the right to tell us, we cant have reptiles, or pot or any other thing thats here on our planet to enjoy. I wish all these backward thinking A..H....s would kick off already! Im sick of them all!!
#3 Bluesrains on 2012-01-28 05:53 (Reply)
Heres a link to contact The State Of RI Senate Committee On Enviorment And Agriculture!
Im going to contact every single one of them!!

Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture

Senator David E. Bates

Senator Daniel DaPonte

Senator Maryellen Goodwin

Senator Nicholas D. Kettle

Senator Michael J. McCaffrey

Senator V. Susan Sosnowski

Senator William A. Walaska
Vice Chairperson
#4 Bluesrains on 2012-01-28 06:11 (Reply)
Great Letter you wrote Jason!!
More of us need to do the same!
I was born in RI and lived there 55 years.
I had many reptiles.
My animals were well taken care of and never caused anyone any problems.
I can understand the concern for hot snakes, but still, one should know the risks and act accordingly.
If things keep up.....we'll all be in jail for one thing or another. Its lunacy to force people underground, which is what will happen. They don't have enough money, police or resources to catch all of us! Jails are already full of
people who smoke pot. Its a damn crime the stupid ridiculous jerks they allow in Government who impose these laws. I could spit nails at them all!
My 84 year old father, started smoking pot for pain. For years he called me a junkie for smoking it. Now he tells me how sorry he is and how dumb he was to follow the crowd of narrow minded fools who said it was bad. He almost died from perscription pills, and now hes feeling Great, and sleeping like a baby on two little puffs!
There's lots of Moronic laws on the books, that need to be changed! Its no wonder, so many are committing crimes, theres no jobs, rents are so high its ridiculousness, and the cost of food is climbing every day!! Cars cost more now than houses did in the 60"s!
But the "Fat Cats" sit in their plush offices, and dont give one shit for the suffering of us all.
#5 Bluesrains on 2012-01-28 06:54 (Reply)
I was interviewed by the Warwick Beacon this morning concerning this proposed ban, so hopefully they don't twist my words and it turns out for the best.

I have also asked my cousin a former RI senator for help with this issue and what more can be done to stop it from moving forward, so hopefully something good comes out of that.

I attended the reptile show in NH this weekend and found out the person that was busted was getting all his snakes back including the HOT ones without having the proper permits or set up. I was always under the impression that no private individuals could be permitted to own venomous reptiles in RI, maybe I'm wrong. I think that's a bad move on the side of DEM or whoever is involved. The person also had a table at the show selling reptiles. I believe, but am not 100% sure he is a former employee of the now out of business Regal Reptiles. That's a whole other story.

Back in the 90's Mitch Burns then owner of the Reptile Emporium was busted with HOT snakes and it made the news. At that time they were rewriting the RI exotic animal laws. I am not sure who from the state was involved, but at that time several private individuals were bought on board, one was a herpetologist from the Roger Williams Park Zoo and the other was the president of the now defunct Rhode Island Herp Society. They decided to make it necessary to have a permit to own old world chameleons. The reason behind the decision was to run Mitch out of town, because at that point in time he was breeding and selling lots of Chameleons. That's not the reason you'll see on the books,they said it was because chameleons are delicate, etc..., but it is the truth behind it. How do I know? All these people used to buy reptiles from me at the Warehouse Aquarium and I heard all the gossip and was friends with allot of the people involved. We all know Rhode Island is spelled with a crooked letter I, but we still love Buddy.

I can't just sit here and watch more injustice happen in this state involving peoples pets. Common sense and actual facts need to be involved here.
#6 Jason Oneppo on 2012-01-30 10:31 (Reply)
I have confirmation from a reliable source that the person will not be getting the venomous snakes back and it is very unlikely that anyone in the state of RI would ever be granted a venomous permit.

So what I was told by people over the weekend at the reptile show was not true.

Maybe even the person that everyone was pointing out as "the guy" isn't even the real person that got busted.

I should know better than to believe that, but with so many saying it sometimes you lend yourself to it. So I just wanted to correct my above statement and apologize for any comments I made about DEM or others involved.
#7 Jason Oneppo on 2012-01-31 10:36 (Reply)
If anyone is still following this thread

RHODE ISLAND: S2033 Goes to Committee

There will be a hearing before the RI Senate Committee on Environment & Agriculture Wednesday February 15th at the rise of the Senate in Rm 211 of The State House, 82 Smith St. Providence, RI. This hearing will be to consider, and potentially vote on, S2033 Act Relating to Animals. There could be a vote on this bill which could adversely impact reptile ownership in the state. If you own reptiles in RI please make every effort to be present and testify at this important hearing. Andrew Wyatt, USARK CEO, will testify on behalf of USARK members. We need as many people as possible to attend this hearing. There has already been a ground swell of opposition to the bill engineered by USARK in a large letter writing campaign. Decisions made at this hearing could be crucial to the future of reptile ownership in RI. Oppose S2033!
#8 Jason Oneppo on 2012-02-09 19:04 (Reply)

What happened at this hearing??
I havnt heard a thing about it.ti
#8.1 Anonymous on 2012-03-04 17:25 (Reply)

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