Bad Idea: Pet Snakes Can Make You Sick


By Jennifer O'Connor

Fancy a bout of the runs, severe fever, septicemia, or perhaps meningitis? Then head on out and get yourself a snake or other reptile as a pet.

According to a recent report, hundreds of people were exposed to salmonella bacteria from dead mice they were feeding to their reptiles—but that's just the tip of the iceberg.

For years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been sounding the alarm about contact with reptiles because every year tens of thousands of people in the U.S. contract salmonellosis—a serious bug that can land you in the hospital … or worse—as a result of direct or indirect contact with reptiles. In the last year, there have been two other reptile-related salmonella outbreaks, one tied to the sale of pet turtles and the other to the sale of African dwarf frogs.

Should pet stores give away a free hospital stay with each reptile they sell? You tell us. Meanwhile, please help stop the wobbly stomach blues (not to mention the blues that every snake and lizard who's stuck in an aquarium must experience) by adding your support to the proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ban the sale of nine species of snake.


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