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Herpetological Society: Exotic animals are expensive, dangerous

PHOENIX – Crocodiles, anacondas and King Cobras might not sound like house pets, but the Phoenix Herpetological Society it’s actually more common than one might think.

Russ Johnson, president of but the Phoenix Herpetological Society said over the years he has received many calls from law enforcement or the Department of Game and Fish requesting their help in removing exotic reptiles.

“It goes in spurts,” he said. “We’ll get calls sometimes four or five times – six times from Game and Fish on situations and then it may go only two or three times in a year.”

Some exotic animals such as anacondas are legal in Arizona, but Johnson said they do not make great pets are can still be quite dangerous. One anaconda at the Phoenix Herpetological Society weighs 250 pounds and is 19-feet long, Johnson said.

While other animals, such as King Cobras are illegal in Arizona without a permit. Johnson said often people buy the animals online or in states where they are legal, then have them shipped or bring them to the Valley.

“People do it, I don’t know for what factor,” he said. “(The animals) belong in a professional exhibit.”

Besides being difficult and expensive to take care of, Johnson said many of the exotic snakes and crocodiles at the Phoenix Herpetological Society are extremely dangerous, if not lethal.

“When I’ve gone in with the police, we’ve been in on a number of occasions with very exotic snakes and only once do I remember a locked cage, and just about every house had kids,” he said. “That’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Johnson said people should never buy exotic animals online that are illegal in Arizona and instead recommends people simply stick with more conventional pets.