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Is it OK to return a black rat to the wild?

Discussion in 'Ratsnakes' started by rugbyman2000, Jan 24, 2005.

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  1. rugbyman2000

    rugbyman2000 Elite Member

    Someone recently emailed me asking what to do with a baby black rat snake that found its way into their house in Eastern PA. My first thought is that the young snake will be fine if released back in the wild because its in its natural habitat. My next thought though, is that even though PA is the snake's natural habitat, it entered the house to find a warm hiding spot to escape extreme winter lows.

    Would it be doing the snake more harm to let it go in the wild or house it indoors until the Spring?

    Thanks guys.
  2. jshrad

    jshrad Elite Member

    If I were you, I would keep the rat until maybe March or at least till it gets some what warm out. Then it should be ok to release it back into the wild.
  3. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    There is a slight problem here. In most places it is illegal to return animals that have been in captivity back into the wild. This applies even to locally caught native species. The concern is that the animal will have been exposed to pathogens while in captivity that they would not normally be exposed to and then in turn transfer this to the wild population. This is particularly valid if you have other herps. You could very well be introducing the reptile equivalent of plague into the local ecosystem.

    I would contact the local department of wildlife and ask them their thoughts. There may be a local nature center or such that would love to have it.
  4. Jay DeMore

    Jay DeMore Elite Member

    If they haven't already caged it just tall them to leave it be, the snake will take care of itself and help to keep unwanted critters like Mice out of the house. If they have already caught it, it's a pet now and has to be treated as such.
  5. rugbyman2000

    rugbyman2000 Elite Member

    Thanks everyone.
  6. Bitis Gabonica

    Bitis Gabonica Elite Member

    Well said Merlin and Jay. Things like that are often overlooked, and I hadn't thought of the dangers posed to the wild if a snake was released back into captivity until reading your post Merlin.

    Rubyman - have they actually captured the snake or is it just in their house? Because, as Jay said, if it has just found its way into their house then it will find its way back out when it is ready, otherwise it will need to be checked by the vet for parasites, if captured, so as not to pose as a threat to any other reptiles that they already own.
  7. rugbyman2000

    rugbyman2000 Elite Member

    I don't believe the lady who found the black rat is a reptile owner at all, just an animal lover. She emailed me saying she found her dogs wildly barking at something and it turned out to be this baby black rat. She must have captured it because she asked me what she should do with it. Sounds like she doesn't want the snake in her house, but doesn't want it to freeze to death either.

    Our rescue does not officially work with wildlife. Although I have a great appreciation for herps in the wild, and strive to learn more about them, our rescue works at finding homes for unwanted pet reptiles that would really have no chance in the wild after being raised in captivity, often out of their native contenant.

    I called the PA Fish and Boat Commission's snake guy but haven't heard back from him yet.

    But it sounds like the general consensus is that giving the black rat a warm home for even a couple months may be harmful to the rest of the ecosystem once it's released? So what should I advise her to do with it now?
  8. Jay DeMore

    Jay DeMore Elite Member

    If she has already captured it you can have her contact me, I can house it for now and put it up for adoption. I just found a good home for a juvi rat, maybe he will want another.
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