By Dillip Pradhan
Bhubaneswar: Sale and purchase and breeding of domestic and pet animals like dogs, cats, hybrid cows and buffalos are nothing new to anyone, but selling and breeding of snakes especially in Odisha market is something new.
Snakes are among other reptiles are kept for breeding and are being sold as pets. City people, mostly reptile lovers, are also taking interest in domesticating snakes for amusement.
Come to ‘Pet Paradise’ at IRC Village in the city- an extensive shop for selling of foreign birds, reptiles, dogs of various breeds and cats- also breeds snakes for sale. However, these reptiles are not venomous and of foreign origin. “Many think that we are selling the Indian poisonous snakes like cobra and others. But in fact, we are only dealing with the animals and reptiles which are not coming under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972”, proprietor of the outlet Satya Shankar Biswal said.
The city Pet animal shop is currently breeding the African Ball Python as it is easy for domestication. One of the most popular captive reptiles also known as Royal Pythons are bought by the reptile lovers due to their friendliness, manageable size, and a wide variety of colors and patterns.
The price of the non-venomous constrictor ranges from Rs 25,000 to above Rs 2 lakh according to the colour and availability, Biswal added.
Another species like Milk Snake and Corn snake-both non-venomous and attractive in different colours- were also bred at the shop. “But, it was not cost-effective. So, we are now breeding and supplying only Ball Python,” he said.
Even most of such reptiles are supplied to the clients outside the State, some from Bhubaneswar have also taken them as pets. This is the smallest of the African pythons and is popular in the pet trade, largely due to its small size and typically docile temperament. The snake can live quite long, with the oldest on record living more than 47 years.
The shop owner also collects rats coming for laboratory testing and breeds them as the food of the python. “A snake of this category can survive around a month with one rat. So, it is not so difficult to feed the African snake,” the proprietor of the outlet pointed out.
“Ball python is not harmful and non-venomous falling outside purview of Indian Wildlife Act and therefore can be a house pet. These can’t survive outside as they born and brought up inside the cage,” Wildlife warden (honorary) and Snake-man Suvendu Mallik said.
This apart, huge varieties of other foreign animals are on sale at the shop. Squirrels like Dormice are mostly found in Europe, although some live in Africa and Asia, sugar glider, a small, omnivorous, arboreal, and nocturnal gliding possum, and Hedgehog found through parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and in New Zealand, are most attractive whose price starts from Rs 25,000 per pair.
Similarly, Persian Cat and African Cats are in huge demand among the pet keepers. The price of a Persian Cat is Rs 15,000 to 50,000 while African category of the species is sold at over Rs 2-3 lakhs, the shop owner pointed out.
Wildlife experts are, however, not in favour of any animals/reptiles being kept confined. “I am not particularly in favour of keeping animals in cage,” Wildlife expert Ranjit Patnaik said.