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Thread: Possibility of Spreading Diease to Nature

  1. #1
    Website Admin Bell's Avatar
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    Possibility of Spreading Diease to Nature

    Cacoseraph, the centipede-handling-extraordinaire (who's pretty darn smart, too) from SCABIES, has written up an interesting post about his fears of invert hobbyists possibly spreading disease to nature. Check it out here. This is something he's been arguing on ATS to no avail... and the conversation started with an ATS employee suggesting a member give a feeder cricket to a local house spider. Basically, to sum it up, Caco has seen what he believes is the ability of our exotic pets, our tools, our feeders, etc... to spread disease to nature if given the chance and he's trying to make hobbyists aware that continued nonchalant behavior can be very detrimental to local species (we've seen what this has done to local amphibians).

    From his post:
    Quote Originally Posted by cacoseraph
    here are some examples of things we need to make sure we do:
    - never catch and release native species. once something has come in contact with your collection, tools, or feeders it should be considered dirty and never to return to nature
    - never release any bugs into nature. this included exotic pet species (one hopes, obviously) AND feeder species. just because a species, such as feeder crickets (A. domesticus), has become introduced into nature doesn't mean specimens thereof can't have picked up some kind of virus in captivity and could spread it to nature
    - limit the exposure of wild bugs to your collection. this one is tricky and where we all fail, me included. there are all kinds of native flies and other things that will occasionally (or more often sometimes) make their way into and then out of our pets' cages. i have seen multiple species of flies, at least one species of ant, and at one species of spider get into and then out of my bug cages. i suspect that mites (and might have read "proof") that mites can leave cages and possibly somehow get into nature again, especially with a degree or more of remove. there are assuredly other vectors, too. to limit this weakness we can try not to have cages with large, unfettered ventilation. any vent holes should be either pinhole sized or covered in fine, strong screen.
    - limit the exposure of nature to our "hobby waste". this is one that flies under a lot of ppl's radar, i think. it's easier to think of keeping our live bugs from nature than everything they have made or come in contact with. to this end, all waste products (used substrate, boluses, etc) should at the least be contained in sealed plastic bags. optimally they would also be frozen for three days or heated up to 200*F for three hours, but that's asking a bit much and even i don't do that
    Sure, if I ever had a wild caught specimen I quarantined it from my other animals until I was "sure" it wasn't ill. You don't put them in contact with existing animals, don't use the same tools, wash your hands between enclosures, etc... It never dawned on me, though, that the very same tongs I use to clean the boluses out of my enclosures and then take with me on bug hunts could be carrying disease. Or the "catch cups" I use for transfers, etc.... I've never secured or quarantined my animals' waste. I've had feeder crickets escape into the wild. I think, like he says, we all pretty much fail at containing our hobby at some point; but it doesn't mean we can't try to be more mindful of our impact... like, starting now. This is the "better safe than sorry until we know 100% if our invert hobby can spread diseases and what diseases those are" approach.

    I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts on this topic........

  2. #2
    Super Moderator widowman10's Avatar
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    Re: Possibility of Spreading Diease to Nature

    i've actually argued this topic with him a couple of times.

    while i agree with many of his points and concerns, i don't agree to the level of them. many seem like scare tactics (for lack of a better term) or unfounded fear-mongering.

    more to come later.

  3. #3
    Website Admin Bell's Avatar
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    Re: Possibility of Spreading Diease to Nature

    Interesting, Brian... I totally missed any of this discussion on other forums. Sounds like it's been going on for years, though. I bet it's good conversation, though, because you're pretty darn smart, too (just not as "in your face" about it as Caco is, haha).

    I think there's a point where it becomes unrealistic to expect invert hobbyists to abide by such strict rules. Sorta like saying a tarantula needs its captive conditions to mirror its native conditions; it's not really possible.

    I don't believe a casual hobbyist will contain their animal's trash at all times, for example. Quarantining it and sealing it up before disposing of it is theoretically possible... will it really be done by everyone? Nope. Should it be done? That's undetermined for me. I do believe our animals can and may carry diseases that could affect native populations... to what extent a bolus thrown out in the trash will damage local species........ I dunno! He does say we should make "every reasonable effort" to do the things he outlines... "reasonable" isn't hard and fast.

    But I guess I would rather us hobbyists police ourselves than the government have to step in...... again.

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    Re: Possibility of Spreading Diease to Nature

    Of course we spread disease to nature, as create new diseases, strains, and back to us from nature. All we can do is be mindful of our own husbandry techniques.

    Nature is now an illusion that people want to believe in, to varying degrees. But in reality there is no "virgin" nature unless you count humans as much a part of nature along with all our actions.

    A nature preserve is even an illusion that people cling to, but if an inhabitant can leave its "boundaries" and get run over on the road then it didn't preserve that animal, did it?

    One day range maps will have straight lines following interstate highways instead of geographical regions!

    Like it or not we are changing the courses of evolution and are a part of the scheme of things, for better or worse. I guess that would be one of those opinion things.

    Me, I just try to live with it, with as little impact from myself, because the outcome is never certain.

  5. #5
    Website Admin Bell's Avatar
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    Re: Possibility of Spreading Diease to Nature

    Good point, Rick. I think one of the things Caco brings up in his original argument years ago, though, is, like, what happens if our invert hobby spreads a deadly disease to, like, honey bees and they all die? (Geeze, do we know WHY they're dying? I guess I haven't read up on that. Anyway...) So, while we are, of course, changing nature, are we going to, with careless husbandry, kill off vital species? Weren't things pretty scary for frogs for a while (I guess it still is). Not saying frogs are AS vital as honey bees, just saying our hobby certainly has the potential to wipe natives out with introduced disease and fungus.

    Those are a lot of commas.

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    Re: Possibility of Spreading Diease to Nature

    Shuddering at the thought of spreading disease to nature .....Equine Herpes

  7. #7
    Website Admin Bell's Avatar
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    Re: Possibility of Spreading Diease to Nature

    It's a good thing you don't live on a farm, Greg.

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    Re: Possibility of Spreading Diease to Nature

    lol, I'm clean and horses kick too hard!

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    Re: Possibility of Spreading Diease to Nature

    Hence the husbandry tech. How would we live it down if honeybees did become extinct and the cause was traced back to our hobby? Or people got MAD Lobster disease because of released aquarium fish, and the infected's hair falls out and they grow claws and turn red and eat cats and dogs and begin to reproduce asexually! Well, reef keeping would likely become a crime.

  10. #10
    Website Admin Bell's Avatar
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    Re: Possibility of Spreading Diease to Nature

    A lady from work has mad lobster disease. That stuff is crazy.

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