Category Archives: Statistics

Penicillin and Latex Both Cause More Annual Deaths Than Captive Reptiles

By Erika N. Chen-Walsh

20642_black_latex_dream_team_wallpaper_yvtAccording to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, nearly 400 Americans die each year due to drug allergies from penicillin and 10 deaths each year are due to severe reactions to latex allergy.

Fewer than one death per year is caused by captive reptiles.

Aspirin and Ibuprofen Cause More Human Deaths Than Captive Reptiles

By Erika N. Chen-Walsh


According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), in 2000, 52 people died of aspirin overdose (49 were suicides and 3 were accidental), and 5 people died of ibuprofen overdose.

In 2000, not one person died as the result of a captive reptile.  Fewer than one death per year occurs as the result of a captive reptile.

Coconuts Kill More People Than Captive Reptiles

coco-nut-tree-tropical-climate-MexicoCoconuts kill around 150 people every year. Falling from a height of 80 feet, they can build up an impact speed of 50 mph.

Captive reptiles kill less than one person per year.

*Journal of Trauma, Injuries due to Falling Coconuts

Thank you, Eric Roscoe, for this important safety bulletin.

Hot Dogs Cause More Annual Deaths Than Captive Reptiles

By Erika N. Chen-Walsh

hotdogcancerAccording to the policy statement published by Pediatrics on February 23, 2010, more than 10,000 children under the age of 14 go to the emergency room each year after choking on food and approximately 77 of them die.  Seventeen percent of those children, or more than 13 children per year, choke to death on hot dogs.

The actual odds that your child will choke to death on a hot dog are roughly, one in 181,230.

Captive reptiles of all varieties are implicated in the deaths of fewer than one human being per year.

The odds of being killed in a captive reptile incident (all kinds, including salmonella)  are only 1 in 4,040,294.

Salmonella and Reptiles

By Erika N. Chen-Walsh

chickensThe Center for Disease Control (CDC) collects data nationally on salmonella infections (salmonellosis).  Salmonella infections are zoonotic and can be transferred between humans and nonhuman animals. Many infections are due to ingestion of contaminated food.

Salmonellosis comes from multiple sources, including infected food, lack of kitchen hygiene, excretions from either sick or infected but apparently clinically healthy people and animals , polluted surface water and standing water, improperly thawed poultry, and from direct contact with animals, including, but rarely, reptiles.  Salmonella bacteria can survive for some time without a host and are frequently found in polluted water.

The CDC web site contains wildly conflicting information on salmonella infection.  Although the CDC claims that there are approximately 40,000 reported cases of salmonella infection per year in the United States, it also claims that “it is estimated” that 70,000 people get salmonella infection from reptiles each year.  Obviously, both statements cannot be true.

The most recent published data from the CDC for salmonella are from 2009.  According to these data, in 2009, there were 48,699 cases of laboratory confirmed salmonellosis. Of these, 40,828 (84%) cases came from human sources and 7,871 (16%) cases from non-human sources. The breakdown of the non-human sources are perhaps the most telling:

  • Chicken:  4,464
  • Turkey:  914
  • Porcine:  339
  • Bovine:  336
  • Other Birds / Wild Animals:  136
  • Equine:  74
  • Reptile:  19
  • Other Domestic Animals:   6
  • All Other Sources:  1,583

Only 0.2% of non-human sources of salmonellosis came from reptiles.  Of all salmonella infections in 2009 (both human and non-human sources), 0.03% came from reptiles.

Chickens, turkeys, pigs, cows and horses all much greater causes of non-human source salmonella than reptiles.  According to the 2011-2012 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 4.6 million American households own reptiles and there are 13 million reptiles living as pets in this country.

APPA’s 2009 survey indicated that there were approximately 11,000,000 reptiles living as pets in the U.S.  Nineteen cases of salmonellosis.  Eleven million reptiles.  That means that less than one thousandth of one percent of the pet reptiles in this country were a source of laboratory confirmed salmonellosis in 2009.

Herpetoculturists need to understand this data.  Although dry, zoonosis is a favorite topic of the animal rights industry and those seeking to restrict the ownership of reptiles and amphibians.  The risk of salmonella infection from reptiles is miniscule as compared to multiple other species of animals and can be nearly completely eliminated through proper hygiene.

Peanuts Cause More U.S. Deaths Than Captive Reptiles

By Erika N. Chen-Walsh


According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, approximately 10 people die per year in the United States from peanut allergies.  And many schools continue to serve peanut butter and peanut products to children.

Captive reptiles cause fewer than one death per year in the United States.

The Python Challenge: Let’s Look at the Numbers

By Erika N. Chen-Walsh

Herp Alliance blogged yesterday about the 2013 Florida Python Challenge that has been underway since January 12, 2013 and lasts until February 10th.  In the first two weeks of this event, more than 1,000 hunters had killed exactly 30 snakes, a very underwhelming result for those who speciously claim that there are as many as 150,000 Burmese pythons living wild in the Florida Everglades.  (With such a grandiose population, how come the army of 1,000 hunters cannot find them?)

Let’s take a look at the numbers.  Thirty snakes have been killed in 14 days.  This equates to 2.14 snakes per day.  Assuming that there are exactly 1,000 hunters in the Challenge, this means that each day, they have a 0.2% chance per day of killing a Burmese python wild in the Everglades.

If the grossly exaggerated “problem” of 150,000 Burmese pythons in the Everglades were correct, at the current kill rate, it would take these 1,000 hunters, working every single day, 192 years to kill them all, if they existed.

The numbers do not add up.  The numbers are not there because the pythons are not there.  As Andrew Wyatt testified before the US House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs on November 29, 2012:

The population of pythons peaked in summer 2009. This was followed quickly by a population crash in the winters of 2009 and 2010.The decline in python numbers since the summer 2009 peak have been significant. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission believes 30-50 percent of the remaining wild Burmese python population died in January and February 2010.

The “problem” of Burmese pythons in the Everglades has been exaggerated and embellished by the Animal Rights industry and political propaganda for ulterior motives.

As of 2009, over 192 invasive animal species (not including insects) have made their home in the Everglades (Ferriter et al., 2009).

feral catPythons tend to get more headlines than other species of animals because of animus toward snakes by the general public, animus that is fomented and encouraged by groups such as HSUS.  Seemingly innocuous animals like the island apple snail and Asiatic clam may be causing more damage to to the ecosystem of the Everglades.  Feral (and domestic) cats are one of the most detrimental invasive species in the Everglades (and elsewhere), yet there is no widespread call to outlaw cats.

This is not a problem that is limited to large constrictor owners, keepers and breeders.  If propaganda and embellished hysteria in the absence of factual data can fuel arms of the State and Federal Government to seek to limit private property rights, the ownership of all species of animals, both domestic and exotic is in jeopardy.

The time to act is now, and the community of reptile and amphibian breeders must come together in a cohesive, organized voice before there is nothing left for us to talk about.

Florida Python Challenge: More Than 1,000 Hunters, 2 Full Weeks, Only 30 Snakes


More than 1,000 people signed up to hunt Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades, but just a fraction of them have been successful so far.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Friday that 30 of the invasive snakes have been killed in the competition that began Jan. 12.

Wildlife officials say eradicating pythons from the Everglades was never the goal of the monthlong “Python Challenge.” Instead, they hoped to raise awareness about the snake’s threat to native wildlife and the fragile Everglades ecosystem. The snake faces both state and federal bans.

No one knows for sure how many pythons live in the Everglades. Researchers say the hunt is helping them collect more information about the pythons’ habits.

The competition ends Feb. 10.

Associated Press, January 25, 2013