Tuesday, March 09, 2010

That Maine Gaboon Viper

A dead Gaboon viper was found stretched across a trail in Saco, Maine. The F&W warden said it was probably released the day before and froze overnight. (News source.)

Since this has now hit the crypto websites, let me add a few points to suggest that not all may be what it seems.

a) "But this one was dead, after succumbing to the cold of even a mild Maine winter night."

So, point one, nobody ever saw the snake alive in the wild.

b) "... the colorful viper stretched almost 5 feet and lay in the trail, much as the snakes do in their native sub-Saharan Africa as they lie in wait for prey."

So, the viper was supposed to be stretched out waiting for prey in March in Maine? With daytime times in the 40-degree range? Seriously? Snakes require heat to digest prey, and Gaboon vipers require far more heat than native snakes in Maine. With cooler temperatures, a Gaboon viper would have crawled off into the woods and disappeared inside a tree, probably to freeze to death and never be found again. Instead, this snake was found dead, stretched in a hiking trail where it was most likely to be spotted?

c) Gaboon vipers of this size and coloration are worth a few hundred bucks. Why release it when it wouldn't be hard to find a hobbyist (in another state, sure, to be legal) to take it off your hands? This isn't a 15-foot Burmese python, which is a bit more difficult to find appropriate-sized caging for.

A far more likely scenario: someone in Maine (illegally) owned a Gaboon viper that died on them. So, to create a prank, they stretched it out on a walking path.

And, while we're at it, let's note the idiotic statement of the Maine F&W warden:

"'They're not legal in Maine. You could not get a permit for that,' Spahr said. 'I don't even know if they would be legal in the U.S.'
"He said such a snake would probably have to be purchased on the black market or on the Internet."

No, Gaboon vipers are not "illegal in the U.S." A simple internet search (and some common sense) would show that. No, the snake would not "probably have to be purchased on the black market." They are perfectly legal to purchase in many states, including here in Pennsylvania. Gaboons are often available at the venomous-included reptile shows. Venomous snakes are not good pets for everyone, but neither are many other animals that can still be kept safely and humanely by responsible pet owners.

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