The Ethics of Culling Snakes

I feel this is an important point to make, and the main reason i brought up that this type of thing is accross the whole pet industry and not just in the reptile hobby.

At the end of the day, you can choose to support a person or not, and Wymans point of dont make assumptions holds true with this. If you want to make an assumption about a person, nobody here can stop you. It can have logic leading to it, but unless you know for sure, it should be used to form your own opinion, and guide you to ask questions for clarification. I think the place some users are getting upset on the other side here is how he is being treated as guilty unless proven innocent.

I get the reasoning behind thinking he euthanized the animals in some way shape or form, but it is an important reminder that none of us should be demonizing a person without 100% assurance they have done the act, and even then, intent matters. If he did do it, we still dont know his reasoning, and doing testing to ensure it is safe to breed and getting a sufficiently large data pool to know so before allowing them out into the hobbt may cost 50-100 lives, but if an issue was found may save thousands of lives if everyone started breeding them once out of his control.

So my opinion i feel comfortable stating is under the following circumstance, i would not be comfortable dealing with this person, and would personally feel they acted in an unethical manner. If any one of these factors is missing, then i would not see a problem:

  1. All animals produced were perfectly healthy with no defects.

  2. All animals taken out of the project were killed instead of rehomed or sold.

  3. The sole purpose of putting the animals down was to protect a financial interest or personal claim to fame.

Because of the uncertainty, there are many things that may be the case that cannot be ignored. The animals may be alive, if they are dead, he may have protecting the many by killing the few to ensure no genetic issues before allowing it to be released.

At the end of the day, while a reply for him would help clear much of this up, i can see why one would be afraid to respond even if they did nothing wrong.

I acknowledge and recognize if this person does meet the above criteria, they wont be the first or last, and i have likely dealt with the products of such behavior in the past, but this is something I already addressed in my previous posts, and something Wyman covered quiet clearly in his, so i wont beat a dead horse on that front.


The problem is, that he said that no one else has the mutation besides him. Meaning he couldn’t have sold them off. Culling in most cases, especially these days, means to control the population through selective killing. Means the same thing for hunters too.


He stated non-project animals, meaning non-Eramosa gene carriers. Normals and other non Eramosa animals could be released to the trade without any homozygous Eramosa leaving the collection.


I think some need to go look at their freezer full of frozen rodents and ask themselves if this trade/hobby is really for you. After all, those were healthy animals at one point too. How many frozen rodents have you personally wasted? I know I’ve thrown my fair share out.

Just something to think about.


To be clear, what he exactly stated “Any combos that were not used were culled from the collection.”

Which, to be fair, is a bit ambiguous, so it could mean any animals that came out without the gene, or it could mean any animal he produced during the project that he didnt use.

Another area of uncertainty, so it could be either or.


I know I’ve thrown some out in my time. (Ball python/hognose keeper) and we all know how picky they can be at times. Also I’m not a vegan/not against eating meat or animal products as long as they were humanely dispatched.

Personally I don’t think I have the heart to euthanize healthy animals unless it comes down to feeding it to something else. (We all gotta eat)

It’s likely a bridge I’m going to have to cross when I eventually do start breeding. (Though personally I’d likely sell off stuff as pet only non disclosed genetics) or sell to a wholesaler. But again once as you hand that animal off to someone (or anyone really) you hope (and assume) it’s going to be loved and well taken care of. For me as far as others I wouldn’t judge because there are upsides and downsides as far as both ends of the argument.

The only person I can control is myself. Also maybe this sounds cowardly but I’d rather not know one way or the other. And I just hope that person does what they truly feel in their heart to be the more compassionate path for them.


Just a quick note on this. I have to imagine this is how people with snakes that feed on snakes get food for their snake, so it may just be skipping the middle man to do yourself in that sense. But im not sure since i dont have any kingsnakes.


After the question in the gene form about what the combos look like, he said any combo that was not used (referring to Eramosa) was culled from the collection. He never said non-project animals.

@eaglereptiles if it isn’t ok for me to quote the original thread, just let me know and I will change it to normal quotations.


God I didn’t even think about that. And yeah I don’t have any snakes that are snake eaters either. There really are downsides to every contingency.


I fully understand your position on this, I respect it but disagree that it isn’t ethical.
I find it way more ethical to fully control the process to ensure that a situation like the Desert gene doesn’t happen again. Since there’s a lot of assuming going on around here I’ll assume that’s what this means:

With regard to the ethics of culling (killing) animals we produce, there are two questions:
Will this act reduce or prevent suffering?
Will this act create or prolong suffering?
The answer to the second question should always be no - that’s it, that’s the guidance. As long as an animal is humanely euthanized, suffering isn’t created or prolonged.


Nowhere in any of my statements I have made have I said anything about ethics. Others have, but I have not. I just want to know if he culled the animals just so no one else has the gene but him, or if he did it for other reasons. That said, a responsible keeper (in my opinion) should always avoid unnecessary deaths. Even if that means selling as pet only if you don’t know much about the gene. From the way he says it, it makes it sound like any combo that wasn’t good enough was culled. Ethics are always a matter of opinion. From how long he worked on this project, it is clear the females reproduced pretty early on, and that they didn’t have any issues. If anything, he could have gotten one of his breeder friends to take the extras and work on things with him, instead of culling. If they are healthy, culling shouldn’t be the first option taken. Unless you have a snake that absolutely needs to eat snakes, or it is a very commonly produced morph that is usually abandoned or mistreated (like wild type ball pythons). Though it is relatively easy to avoid producing wild types.


For established breeders, yes, but for alot of breeders who dont have massive collections or those trying to build up their multi recessive collections, breeding hets is a necessity, and not all want a dom or inc dom that chances overpowering the look of the recessives.

I cant imagine there are many people breeding normals intentionally anymore, i would guess they come from trying to gene stack and are a byproduct of het breeding.


I think there are quite a few. Maybe not a lot of people that are in the hobby/community and working towards a goal, but a lot of pet owners likely have a snake (most often a normal) and get another or borrow a friends to breed them. Then the babies are often just sold on craigslist/facebook or given to friends (who will sometimes breed them).


Fair, BYB i could definitely see. But they arent easy to sell and the hassle of incubating feeding and rearing isnt worth the 20-50$ youd get for them, or the electricity used. So i have to think its one and dones, but with how many people own BPs, i could believe it is possible there is no shortage of people to pick up where they left off.

But professionally, normals have limited use, not 0, but limited. When you want to see if a gene is recessive, inc dom, or dom, a true normal is still the best way.


Yeah, most of the normals I’ve produced are just byproducts of pairing a visual recessive to a het/normal — though one of those clutches was meant to be a pied clutch.

Either way, all of the “normals” I’ve produced are 100% het for either pied or VPI axanthic, so they’re still worth something for new people getting into the hobby.

Though I’m also looking at investing in a multigene male to pair to my normal females, so I can create a nice variety of babies and be less likely to hit any more normals.


You seem to have wildly misunderstood my intent here, and on that I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt. I made a logical assumption based on the original context provided in Corey’s original post, and his own assertion that any non-project animals were culled. My first few messages were, in fact, asking Corey for clarification, as were multiple other people. When there was no clarification provided by Corey, the conversation proceeded a little without that in terms of an elaboration on why myself and others wanted clarification from Corey himself and why we were concerned. This is a public forum. Discourse is the entire point, no?

You also seem to think that I’m targeting Corey in some way. I did not “put him on public blast.” I didn’t call him out on social media or make a video about him. I didn’t incessantly tag him or insult him. I responded to his own post on these forums proposing a new gene and asked him for clarification on the wording of an assertion that he wrote. There has been no blasting of any kind, and it’s a little concerning to me that there seem to be many people calling me out for asking for his clarification on the matter.

I’m never going to apologize for asking for more information on hobby practices. Just because someone is well-known and/or well-respected does not in any way mean they are above criticism. In this case, I’m not even criticizing Corey - I’m seeking information and criticizing the general concept of culling animals for non-health related reasons. You can disagree with me all you’d like, but there’s no malicious intent here from me and I’m not sure why my request for clarification has been taken as such a threat. I’ve not made any illogical or malicious assumptions or comments here - we had discourse.

Until such time as Corey himself decides to clarify what he meant in the original wording, the only thing that I can say for sure is that if breeders out there are euthanizing animals to prevent a new gene being released to any other collection, that’s a very clear indicator to me that we should take a deep look at what we are willing to accept as a hobby. If that isn’t happening, that’s wonderful - and it’s all I wanted to know. That’s the final thing I will say on the matter.


This was an issue that I had when raising and breeding Tarantulas. I raised a female Chaco Golden Knee (G. Pulchripes) to adulthood. Had a male set to go when he matured. But to have as many as 800 slings stopped that plan as soon as I realizing how much time would be needed to move that many.

I don’t think I could sell any of my future BP hatchlings knowing they would be used to feed other species. Although accepted, my moral conscious would tear me up inside.


Same, dude, same.

“Euthanasia” is only meant to refer to compassionate assisted death for a reason (suffering, severe disability, important research, as a prey item, etc.), not a painless dispatch convenient for the owner of the animal. After this post I’ll stay out of this convo as well due to my extreme bias, but I 100% insist this term not be used to reference the killing of animals because they didn’t fit into a breeding program or did not sell, whether performed without stress or pain or not. I am very qualified to make this distinction and will not debate it.

Insofar as I know, ‘cull’ can mean removal from a breeding population via any means, lethal or just selling off.

Agreed. Personally feel recognition of morph (edit: without) this is not justified.

Agreed with @ashleyraeanne that decapitation of reptiles is 100% unacceptable as primary means of euthanasia. The veterinary community has recognized this for decades, any vet that doesn’t know that is very out of touch. Thank you @ballornothing for sharing the AVMA’s guidelines.



This is more to @mblaney than anyone else actually. I am also retired but I worked for a vet for several years in the early 2000’s and she treated not only dogs and cats but also exotics including small animals (pocket pets), birds, fowls, reptiles and even fish. She also worked with several wildlife rescue groupsSome of the “tails” I could tell you!

She refused to dock tails or crop ears( cosmetic surgery). She also stopped declawing kittens as well as adult cats. I was blessed to have worked for her because I learned so much about reptiles and developed a passion for snakes.

It really saddens me to think of what could be going on behind closed doors in the reptile trade after reading the above posts and replies. I think puppy mills are the worst and there are breeders who get away with it because their dogs are considered “live stock”. Unbelievable.

To destroy any healthy animal that was purposely bred because the animal is deemed not profitable IMO is morally and ethically wrong.

I’m done


You’re quite welcome.

I don’t mean to offend anyone but I am not interested in further participating in this portion of the discussion as I mentioned above. It draws forth entirely too much emotion, and I am here to share knowledge/learn from others. That does not happen in an emotional and/or anthropomorphic conversation.