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Old 29th June 2004   #1
jason
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Yes, we've all seen the appalling conditions in which many species are kept at pet stores. At one in particular here in Evansville, IN there was a tank of Fire Newts mixed with goldfish and african clawed frogs. I don't know who thought this to be a good idea, but I most certainly didn't. In telling the minimum-wage employees that what was going on was wrong, they responded with a shrug of their shoulders.

Well, so I spent about $100 setting up a tank so that I could save a few from the fate I saw the previous batch suffer a year before. (Bit off legs, starved, or just plain dead.) I went and bought three of them, and they didn't even bother charging me full price, so I got them for $2 apiece. What I don't understand, is if you're going to treat something like its only a commodity, why don't you even bother making the full amount off of it? Furthermore, from a pet store owners standpoint, if they aren't profitable, and you don't know how to take care of them properly, why have them, make them suffer, and lose money on them because they die?

So Im happy to say, they are all doing fine and are very healthy. I've had them for a little over 3 months. In fact, one of them laid eggs and currently Im raising the larvae, of which about 6 survived.

The main point of all this is, I got them because I wanted them to live. I've loved newts and salamanders since first taking care of a barred tiger in animal husbandry in middle school. I think what I would like to do is eventually pass them on to someone who I know will take care of them, and continue to save more from the stores. I read the posts on here regularly and everyone seems really supportive, so I was wondering if anyone else does anything like this?

OK, one final thing, being an ethical issue. In buying the newts from the pet store, this would cause a demand for the species, in turn causing them to order more. What do you all think of this?



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Old 29th June 2004   #2
pin-pin
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Hi Jason,

I'm really glad that you feel so strongly about having the newts maltreated. (Everyone here does too!) Unfortunately your last statement is true, if you keep buying them, they will keep ordering them and result in more harvesting from the wild.

How does the store make money? Here is what you said:

#1 Well, so I spent about $100 setting up a tank
#2 I got them for $2 apiece

If you bought the equipment at the store, then the store just made $100+ dollars + chump change for the newts.

The best way to save the newts is to continue to complain to the store, going up the power ladder when necessary. It's a tough fight and often needs vigilant reminders. This is how you can make an impact in stopping those horrifying conditions.

The second best way is to breed those newts and give the offsprings away, OVER and OVER again. This decreases the demand of them. This is also difficult and takes a long time, but if you really love newts and salamanders, this is the way to go. Jen raised over 200 larvae this year and gave them all away, but you can start on a smaller scale.

You can try advertising on this forum if you don't want the newts, but please don't go purchasing any more to save them.

I almost feel that petshops keep the amphibians in such horrifying conditions just so people will impulse buy them (+ $100 of the equipment) to save them from death.

(Message edited by apples on June 29, 2004)



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Old 29th June 2004   #3
jennifer
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Yeah, buying them does save a few, but it condemns another few to be harvested and sold. It might be more effective to write a letter to the manager of the shop. Mention that you plan to contact the local humane society if conditions don't improve.



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Old 29th June 2004   #4
jason
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Good point Apples,

Unfortunately, you are totally right. Even though I bought only some of the equipment there, they got some of my money nonetheless. I guess when I was writing I was only thinking about the economic commodity of the animals alone. So your point was well made, the animals are a way to sell equipment...

But it is an ethical dilemma. We can save future generations of wild animals if we refuse to buy the WC's presently there, unfortunately, in order for this to work, their sales must be poor or they must all get sick or die before the store decides not to order anymore. At least this would minimize the suffering on the whole.

However, what about people like impulse buyers, or people that get the animal before the tank, or a child that doesn't know what they are doing? They are sold, and as long as the store sells them, they don't care how or why. Then they order more. I don't want to assume that everyone that buys them from a pet store doesn't know how to care for them, but if they don't, it follows that it would be better if someone who did know how to take care of them got them in this situation. But Im guilty too, because I bought them, and the store doesn't care what I do with them because now they can order more. Doh!

As for your theory on pet shops purposely keeping amphibians in bad conditions, I find that an interesting way to look at things. It makes sense from a logical standpoint. If that's the case, I will say it worked on me, although I don't feel unjustified in doing it. Either someone else would have bought them, or they would have died (and many did.) Now I feel bad for not *****ing more at someone at the store. When I do though, its like Im not even talking to a person, their apathy is overwhelming. Maybe I should just go in stealth style, put the goldfish with the other goldfish, remove that damn heater by myself, then sneak out though the roof. Click the image to open in full size.

At least there hasn't been anymore fire newts at the store since I bought some out of the last batch. Already the one on the west side of town doesn't carry them anymore because the lady there said she can't keep them alive. Maybe the one I went too will get that way too. But damn the infernal Petsmart, they have them no matter what town you're in!

As for the larvae I have, when they get all grown up, I do plan on giving them away though these forums. That's why I think this place is so great, people here care. Maybe I did do something a little wrong, but I potentially saved 3 lives and got six free. Click the image to open in full size. However, after the fact, I'll just heed everyone's advice, thank you.



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Old 29th June 2004   #5
kaysie
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We need more people like you in this world!



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Old 29th June 2004   #6
mark
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This has been an issue for me since I was a young kid buying newts at pet stores. I had "rescued" many a newt back then, (although not in years). I have to admit, I dont believe they are using some cruel scam to keep them in bad conditions on purpose, because that only appeals to sympathetic buyers and not people looking for quality pets. Plus, lets face it, they are not totally evil people, or smart enough to put that much thought into it. They are just too lazy to learn how to treat them right.

What I dont understand is that with firebellies (which could be cynops, warty newts, etc.) they should be easy for the store to care for. They always have filters in the tank. Sure there is overcrowding, but food should NEVER be an issue. These animals love to eat, and from my experience, most newts will eat anything, and will happily take freeze-dried and frozen foods(bloodworms, tubifex, etc.) if they are too lazy to put in live foods.

I wish they would take 5 minutes before deciding to sell newts to learn how to house and care for them, because I believe it doesnt get much easier. Leave out the heater, keep them fed, and dont put in other animals. In the end, everyone wins, the animals look better, more people will buy them, and the survival rate at the store is higher.

One last note. I almost always see some goldfish in newt tanks. I think that these people honestly believe that these small newts will eat a fish that is almost as big as them!



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Old 29th June 2004   #7
sharon
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<blockquote><hr size=0><!-quote-!><font size=1>Mark Sobczak (Marks) wrote on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 17:04 :</font>

&quot;One last note. I almost always see some goldfish in newt tanks. I think that these people honestly believe that these small newts will eat a fish that is almost as big as them!&quot;<!-/quote-!><hr size=0></blockquote>

Actually I think they erroneously do it for the visual impact. Something flashy in the water, something pretty on the land, and Oh my, look how they get along.

I do think most petshops don't pay attention to just how warm the newt tanks get next to the python cage with its heat lamps and rocks. Or pay attention to the fact that here in AZ most stores are uncomfortably warm for humans much less a cold loving critter.

I have seen some shops with horrid conditions. I offer tips on how to keep the animals alive, cheap ways to feed them (i.e. fishing out newborn guppies to a breeder net and stuff like that), and how to increase sales of associated items (pumps, tanks, decorations).

Some shops improved, some didn't. Most of them realize keeping the animals alive and in good viewing shape pays off.

My town has two petshops. One (I used to work for) improved virtually ALL reptile keeping methods (butt monkeys still keep firebelly toads w/firebelly newts and goldfish). The other has stopped keeping any amphibs at all. I pointed out that her open shop and animal displays prohibited maintaining creatures with needs for lower temps. Occasionally she brings in amphibs during the winter but never in the summer.

One shop in another town, just looked at me like I had turned purple w/lesions and said, "I don't have to change anything, people buy them anyway." She has the lowest prices for any animal carried by any shop in town. She also tacks "add on sales" without asking you. Like if you buy a frog, she puts a dozen crickets on the bill and rings you up. From what I've seen most people don't debate with her about it. The few that do, get the cold shoulder and nasty treatment the next time they show up. LOL, like me. She must have a photographic memory for faces. She tolerates me now when I show up. I'm never nasty or vicious and I've never threatened her. I've helped her make a couple of sales when people come in. NOW she is making a few changes. Its been three years since I found her little hole in the wall shop.

She won't spend a dime on photocopying the caresheets I've given her, but she will hand out the ones I've given her.

So speak up. Make a difference. It doesn't always work and its embarrassing as all heck when they get nasty on you for no good reason. But remember when all else fails there is the BBB to report them to, at least in the US.

But when it does work, for so much as one display, it feels awesome.

Sharon



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Old 29th June 2004   #8
chris
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By putting many species together in a tank with a heater, the shops sell more equipment AND more animals. I also think that many of the managers etc. are too arrogant to believe they actually got something wrong. One way to make changes would be to make them think they came up with the idea; therefore they are right and can still think they are above you...
The problem (at least in the UK) with reporting shops to orgabisations like the RSPCA is that they then use this information to try and ban ANYONE from keeping exotic pets, even those who are breeding them and are completely competent.
Chris



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Old 29th June 2004   #9
clarence
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I remember this happening in the US with those silver-dollar sized turtles, because they carried salmonella.

They're herps. what else would you have expected?



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Old 30th June 2004   #10
mark
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I don't want to sound cruel and heartless in this post, but I wouldn't buy those newts or anything from that store. If you bought $100 from them, thats more money that they can use to buy MORE animals and If they can't care for them well, they'll just get more and more and more. No offense, but you're just paying them to do what they do to the poor caudates more.



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Old 30th June 2004   #11
sharon
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Well, Mark, thats pretty much what this post was/is about. To buy and save the animals (thusly supporting the store its poor animal care) or support your beliefs for decent care and NOT purchase the animals and let them die.

Its a tough choice. I can tolerate "poor" conditions but watching an animal suffer, from something I know can easily be fixed/cured (missing limbs, sores etc) is really tough. And the times I've walked away have haunted me.

Some people are made of sterner stuff and I certainly don't condemn them or blame them for NOT supporting a store with poor animal husbandry. But sometimes its more than I can stand. Its a personal choice.

Sharon



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Old 30th June 2004   #12
joseph
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I think the most important thing to do, is make captive bred animals available. I myself wouldn;t have minded starting with Cb orientalis(even if I just got little larvae or juvies) rather than going through 3 adult newts. The current female I have is doing well, and I hope to get a male and start a captive population. However, this will only stop knowledgeable people from buying them, and not impulse buyers who could care less that the animal was ripped out of its habitat(or simply don't know). Thats probably 90% of the people.


So, Jason, you've bought them-you can't return them to the wild. I see you are raising larvae. Make the most of it!

(Message edited by fishkeeper on June 30, 2004)



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Old 1st July 2004   #13
jason
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Don't you love ethics? Never a clear-cut answer. Another marginal case pops up, causing us to rethink our assumptions all over again.

The problem here, at least with cynops is their relative commonality. The issue is clear cut, people buying them from stores, reducing their populations in the wild. Not good. The fact that they are so common makes it easier to deal with.

But what if you walked into a pet store, and saw some poor creature that you know was rare or uncommon, and you found yourself thinking, "What the hell is this doing here?" (I'm not referring to anything specific) Now here's your issue. You know the animal's populations in the wild are already low, and this shouldn't be in the store anyway, but its not illegal, so like it or not, its there. Due to its rarity, the chance that it will pop up in the store again if you buy it, is in your opinion questionable.

What's next? Do you take it or leave it to whatever fate may befall it? You, being experienced, can care for it and possibly breed it. Or do you follow the same ethical guidelines that would prevent you from buying the cynops?

I'm a philosophy grad by the way, and while I did study ethics, I was much more into metaphysics (the ontological study of reality.) I've found that the attributes of objects in our universe make people think funny things. That's where ethics come from!

So here's my question:
Do the ethical principles regarding different species of animals in a certain class (in this case, caudates) change when a particular attribute they share (in this case, frequency) is not the same?

You can probably tell what I think, how about you all? By the way I'm enjoying reading all your posts, thanks!



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Old 1st July 2004   #14
edward
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To put a slight spin on the topic,
the animal has already been removed from the habitat in your hypothetical situation, it cannot be repatriated so it does not have any "value" for the population in the wild. As it is a single animal it has no value for a cb breeding program (unless you have access to the opposite sex, a condition not specified in your scenario).
So the only "ethical" reason to purchase the animal is to attempt to work out the basic husbandry needs with a single animal.

It seems the older I get the fewer of these decisions are black and white anymore (oh to be young and very idealistic again....).

Ed



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Old 1st July 2004   #15
sharon
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But ED!!!! With a board like this we can reach out to those we know are working with said animals!

Case in point... marbled salamanders. Kept at a local pet shop, firebellied toads and goldfish the assigned companions. If I knew of someone with a breeding program for those guys, I could "save them." Swap them for something I'm working with or just plain want.

I did "save" those salamanders by the way. The trio is now living with someone who has had good luck with breeding various geckos and frogs.

We can even pool resources.

LOL, as for being young and idealistic, I'd settle for YOUNG!!! Um, current knowledge and wisdom INTACT!!

Sharon



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Old 1st July 2004   #16
jason
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Right you are Ed,

Its always after a post you realize something you perhaps should have said. Click the image to open in full size.

(1) The animal may have no value for the population in the wild, but it does have value for the total number in existence, because it has the potential to reproduce in captivity. This is assuming you don't want the species to become completely extinct.

(2) While it is a single animal, I was assuming through some means, be it through this forum or otherwise, you would find it a mate.

With that addendum, what now?



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Old 1st July 2004   #17
jesse
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i complained once to the local humane society in my area about the amphibians being maltreated at the local petsmarts in my area and they totally polished it off. I doubt they even knew what a newt was. i always hate how ppl seem to only care for the cute fuzzy animals. Newts can be cute too. Also i always get riled when i complain at the stores and they say the classical "well, are you a herpetologist" i NEVER buy anything from petsmart or petco. and by never i mean i have only gone to get things for my girlfriends cats and with her money. If you whant to find it a mate i suggest advertising for it. thats my spiel



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Old 1st July 2004   #18
kaysie
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I've only bought from Petsmart one time, and thats when the local pet store was out of worms (when i was living in detroit n couldnt get my own worms). BTW: they charged me $3 for a dozen worms! and they were half dead already! Petsmart is an evil conglomeration of demons, in my opinion.



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Old 2nd July 2004   #19
edward
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Hi All,
Sharon, Marble salamanders are not uncommon in the USA, are common in the pet trade and are not that hard to breed provided that you raise them from new metamorhs in your system so that precludes them from being used as an example. (That said I suspect wc adults can be cb but you need to play with the humidity more as this is probably the most important factor in getting them to oviposit).

Hi Jason are we assuming that the "average" person is typified by the group here on the list as if this is not a "given parameter" then my answer will be significantly different.

Jesse, I am sorry to say but in most areas amphibians, reptiles and fish are not covered by humane legislation so the SPCAs do not have any real jurisdiction to cover the animals.

Ed



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Old 2nd July 2004   #20
sharon
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<blockquote><hr size=0><!-quote-!><font size=1>Edward Kowalski (Ed) wrote on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 16:22 :</font>

&quot;Sharon, Marble salamanders are not uncommon in the USA, are common in the pet trade and are not that hard to breed provided that you raise them from new metamorhs in your system so that precludes them from being used as an example. (That said I suspect wc adults can be cb but you need to play with the humidity more as this is probably the most important factor in getting them to oviposit). &quot;<!-/quote-!><hr size=0></blockquote>

Wow, really? Sorry thats my first response when reading something that surprises me even when I know the person who said/wrote it knows what they are talking about.

I'm used to seeing fire salamanders, tigers (not lately though) and firebelly newts but I've never seen a marbled salamander in the stores before. Maybe it has something to do with my state being so hot.

LOL! At any rate, I was thinking that they were rare when I bought them, but mostly I was "rescuing" them from a lousy set up (set near a window no less). Even with my limited knowledge I know better than to put an amphib in a sealed tank near a window that gets HOT during the day.

Sharon



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