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Reptile community sends message after man arrested for having 20+ Burmese Pythons

Posted at 10:38 PM, Oct 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-15 13:28:05-04

Snake breeders and owners in the reptile community are reacting to a story that's gotten a lot of attention out of Utah, about a man arrested after police seized 20 pythons from his home.

Marty Bone was arrested on more than a dozen charges, related to owning and selling "exotic" or "dangerous" animals without a proper license, drug possession with intent to distribute and gun possession by a restricted person.

The story picked up steam after pictures of Bone's snakes roaming freely in his home began to circulate.
Many people in the reptile world saw the news.

On Wednesday evening, Jeff Bermudez picked one of his five-foot boa constrictors up out of her enclosure in a room at his Orem home.

His passion is breeding boa constrictors as well as preserving genetic traits in the species. He currently has over 20 snakes, all kept in orderly, clean containers in a temperature-controlled room.

"Come here baby," he said, to the boa as he lifted her up. "There you go. Want to come and say hi?"

He held up Autumn, his mama boa he uses to breed. Jeff showed off Autumn's colors, pattern, and personality.

Autumn snuggled up to Jeff's chest, and booped her face on his forehead.

"These snakes are awesome," he said. "Absolutely beautiful."

Jeff said he loves his boas like his own kids. He explained that his business Exotic Constrictor Designs only sells to select, private buyers and doesn't advertise to the public.

He talked about how he even worked with a lab in Texas to come up with an at-home test that allows himself and private owners to get diagnostic information about their snake.

"We want to make sure that the quality of life that these animals are going to have in captivity, is going to be a healthy one," he said.

When Jeff saw the story about Bone's arrest, he said it is, "sad to know that that happens."

"My sympathies out to that guy. It's a tough situation for anybody to deal with," he said. "My condolences also to the neighbors and community around him as well."

Unified Police told Fox 13 they began to investigate Bone after receiving complaints. According to the charging document, an undercover officer purchased a baby Burmese python from Bone. Bone didn't have a license, and police subsequently got a search warrant for his home.

They discovered 20 Burmese pythons of various ages and lengths. Half were more than 10 feet long. Police also seized 585 rats and 46 rabbits that Bone kept in the backyard to feed to his snakes.

Bone told Fox 13 that the rabbits had been getting out.

While some might be shocked at that number of snakes, Scales and Tails owner Shane Richins explained that it's not that unusual.

"A lot of people have misunderstandings about what's going on," he said, of what people might think upon learning someone owns big snakes or owns a lot of them.

Snakes don't require a ton of space to live in, and Richins said they spend most of their time curled up and sleeping. They don't eat or use the bathroom that often.

He indicated that owning large snakes is a lot more common than one would think.

"You can easily keep several snakes," he said. "A lot of people [who own snakes] keep multiple snakes."

He stressed that it's about having the appropriate setup. Snakes of different sizes will require different-sized enclosures. Shane doesn't breed feeder animals like rats and rabbits, but instead buys frozen rats that he thaws out.

In Bone's case, he let his pythons free-roam the house and raised his own rats and rabbits to feed the snakes. The rats and rabbits multiplied into numbers that UPD expressed were concerning for many reasons, including safety, sanitation, and the neighbors.

Shane likened snake-keeping choices to parenting choices. What some parents might think is best for their child, others could disagree with.

But one thing that needs to stay consistent across the board, according to Shane-- not annoying the neighbors and making sure it doesn't affect them or their safety.

"It probably had something to do with the rabbits and the rats getting loose and getting out of control," he said, of what may have gone wrong in Bone's situation.

He said Burmese pythons are the mellowest of the big snakes.

"That's why they are the most commonly kept in captivity, because as big snakes go, they are super sweethearts," he said.

Jeff described how boas are much more active and on-the-go.

"If you give them the life and the time they need, they'll do very, very well for you," he said.

He expressed that he hopes that people who see Bone's story don't make broad generalizations and will understand that it doesn't signify the whole community-- A community that takes great care of and pride in their reptile pets.

"A lot of people just need to get some time to kind of get to know us. Get to see what we do," he said, later adding, "It's a beautiful life."