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T. natans?

I

i

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hi,

i have a T. natans and i saw a person selling this species, claiming that they are not being imported anymore. is this true and how much are they really going for nowadays?

(Message edited by b_marinus on April 05, 2007)

(Message edited by jennewt on April 10, 2007)
 
J

jennifer

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Importation of all caecilians is currently illegal, in theory, because export is prohibited by all the countries where they naturally occur. However, they still show up in the pet trade periodically. I've heard that people get away with it by importing them as "eels" (fish) rather than as amphibians.

(Message edited by jennewt on April 10, 2007)
 
F

foster

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I see them offered with some regularity at a petstore in a nearby city sold by the old "rubber eel" label. It seems that they are usually around 15 dollars or so. I would not pay 150 each as they have recently been advertised.
Chip
 

nate

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I've spoken to USFW at length about this and they have told me that Rio Cauca caecilians aka "Rubber Eels" (Typhlonectes natans) are not on any of their lists and to their knowledge, are not illegal to import or own. I know that others, including our own Ed Kowalski, have been told differently by USFW. Adding to this, the natural range of T. natans is theoretical...they could be legally coming out of Peru as well. It's difficult to know what's what. In any event, I told USFW that I have Rio Caucas which I've purchased from a pet store and they told me they were not concerned and found no legislation to say they were illegal for me to own/buy.

One thing's for sure, they're still imported all the time and sell for about 10-20$. My local fish store had close to 100 individuals this past winter. Also, Kaup's caecilians and true Cayenne caecilians (Typhlonectes compressicauda) are also showing up legally these days through the fish trade out of Peru.
 

John

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How do they catch so many of them - I thought these guys were very hard to find in the wild due to their secretive nature?
 

nate

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Well, Typhlonectes, Potomotyphlus, and a few of the Chthonerpeton are all very easy to find and catch. T. natans for instance, is even very common in the sewer ditches of Caracas. So fisherman catch them all the time in nets.
 

freves

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I was at the above mentioned store this past weekend and they had two individuals (a third was dead) for 24.99 each.
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Ed

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Hi Nate,

While Typhlonectes are not listed on the CITES etc, they are illegal to export out of Columbia at this time. The issue comes about with USF&W's position that they enforce all other countries laws about exporting wildlife into the USA under the LACY Act. If animal or wildlife product is illegally exported from the country of origin into the USA (see below), then it and all of its offspring are illegal under the LACY Act.

With regards to Typhlonectes, the question that should be asked of USF&W is, if the caecilian was exported in violation of the country of origin's laws into the USA, is it legal to sell, or own the caecilian. For example with the exception of farmed boas and iguana's and tropical fish it is illegal to export any animals from Columbia without special collection permits. As the caecilians are sold as a species of tropical fish without those special permits this violates the Columbian laws and has resulted in confiscations of Typhlonectes in the past..
(See Dr. Wake's comments in Captive Management and Conservation of Amphibians and Reptiles). If you contact the Columbian authorities, you would find that they have not granted permits for thier export.

If you read the LACY act you will find the following snip "Today, the Lacey Act makes it unlawful to import, export, transport, sell, buy, or possess fish, wildlife, or plants taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any federal, state, foreign, or Native American tribal law, treaty, or regulation."endsnip (from http://www.fws.gov/pacific/news/2000/2000-98.htm ). As the caecilians are exported in violation of a foreign law they are illegal.

In addition, the importation of Typhlonectes into the USA as a type of fish is technically a violation of the LACY Act...

The correct question to ask with respect to thier legality is as I stated above.. simply asking them if they are illegal won't get the correct answer and could be potentially an issue if someone points out what Dr. Wake etc have told them or the goverment of Columbia starts to make a fuss about it like Brazil is currently doing over the illegal dendrobatids in the pet trade....


I suspect that given the current administration's policies, this will not be addressed however I would not be surprised to see a different administration place a higher emphasis on illegal central and south american animals/products due to the fuss being made by our southern neighbors...

Ed
 

nate

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Hi Ed,

Yes, I asked the Columbia export question as well. Several times. I made it plainly clear to the law enforcement agent what my concerns were. Again, I was told my concerns were unfounded.

I think for very practical reasons, USFW is not in the business of assuming that all the animals in the US pet trade come from Columbia. The range of T. natans is poorly studied and could even range as far south as Peru and as far east in the Orinoco drainage system. I'm sure that if someone in USFW who knew caecilians and Columbian law inspected a shipment from Columbia with T. natans, they would likely confiscate the shipment as they have done in the past. But maybe not, who knows? However, it seems clear that USFW is certainly not concerned enough about hypothetical Columbian T. natans in the possession of US pet owners (who did not import the animals anyway) to spend the time and money to investigate or confiscate, regardless of potential Lacey Act violations.

I think it's great to educate people about the fact that their caecilian might or might not have been illegally collected and imported into the US. Truly though, this same logic could apply to virtually any exotic species any of us own at the moment, from Salamandra to Bombina to Rhacodactylus. So I think the information should be tempered with the reality of the situation as well.

Anyway, I encourage anyone who owns Typhlonectes to talk to USFW about it themselves.
 

Ed

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Hi Nate,

As I mentioned above under the current administration there seems to have been a change in emphasis by USF&W on what they are pursuing at this time, however, I would be hesitant to assume it will remain that way....

However I do know that most of the T. natans at Philly (and I believe Detroit, and the NAIB) came from USF&W confiscations in fish imports out of Columbia and Venezuela....


Ed
 
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