Xenia Reptile Mill Warehousing Thousands of Snakes in Tiny Tubs; PETA, Reptile Experts Condemn Cruel Conditions


For Immediate Release:
March 5, 2024

Contact:
Nicole Perreira 202-483-7382

Xenia, Ohio – After learning that locally based reptile mill Reptiles by Mack—which sells reptiles to pet stores across the U.S.—keeps thousands of snakes in small, barren plastic tubs without room to fully stretch out, PETA fired off a letter today to the business’s founder and CEO, John Mack, calling on him to improve conditions for the animals at his facility and to remove the misleading claims on the company’s website stating that snakes can be housed in enclosures only half the length of their bodies.

Numerous peer-reviewed studies make it clear that to be as mentally and physically healthy as possible, snakes held in captivity must be able to fully stretch out their bodies—meaning that they must be housed in enclosures at least as long as they are—and that snakes who can’t stretch out feel stressed and experience various health problems, including injuries, joint disease, constipation, and obesity.

Shelving units at Reptiles by Mack, where thousands of snakes are housed in tiny tubs like these. Credit: PETA

“Confining snakes to minuscule, barren plastic bins where they can’t stretch, explore, or express any other natural behavior is just as cruel as keeping cats or dogs in cages so small that they can’t move comfortably, stand up, or even turn around,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “This is the reality of the pet trade, and PETA urges everyone not to support it and never to buy any animal from a pet store or breeder.”

A previous PETA investigation into Reptiles by Mack revealed that tens of thousands of frogs, lizards, turtles, and snakes were confined to filthy, cramped plastic tubs and deprived of basic necessities, such as fresh food, water, heat, UV light, and veterinary care.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Mack follows.

March 5, 2024

John Mack
Founder and CEO
Reptiles by Mack

Dear Mr. Mack:

I’m writing about the countless snakes confined at your breeding and import warehouse. Will you commit to improving conditions for these animals and end your company’s false claim that it’s acceptable to keep snakes in tanks that are just half the animals’ length?

Your late friend Brian Barczyk’s polished video tour of your business shows thousands of plastic tubs reaching nearly to the ceiling in “aisle after aisle of snakes” that go “as far as the eye can see,” as Barczyk puts it. The video shows “really big” snakes—as Barczyk says—crammed into these tiny tubs. Many animals are obviously much longer than the tubs and can’t even extend their bodies to full length. We understand that the snakes you use for breeding spend their entire lives in tubs like this, severely confined like dogs at puppy mills.

Such intense confinement causes any animal to suffer and has been implicated in abnormal behavior as well as more than 20 diseases found in snakes kept this way. It’s widely acknowledged among experts—and has been for years—that habitats that allow snakes to stretch and move around are crucial to their physical and behavioral needs. A 2019 study of 65 snakes found that many of them assumed fully stretched-out postures within just an hour of observation during the daytime. A 2021 study found that “recommendations [of] enclosure sizes shorter than the snakes were based entirely on decades-old ‘rule of thumb’ practices that were unsupported by scientific evidence” and that “[r]ectilinear behavior is normal, distinct, and common across snake species, and … fundamental to snake health and welfare.”

Even the care sheet produced by a pet industry lobbying group—whose board of directors you chair—states that snake enclosures “should provide [the animal] sufficient space to stretch out and move freely.” Why then do your company’s “care sheets” for corn, king, and sand boa snakes advise people that these animals can be crammed into tanks just half their length? No one would recommend that a 3-foot-long German shepherd be kept in a crate just 18 inches long. Why does Reptiles by Mack approve of and promote keeping a 6-foot-long snake in a 3-foot-long tank?

Stretching out fully and moving in a straight line are essential to snakes’ well-being. Accordingly, PETA looks forward to your prompt confirmation that (a) your facility—one of the largest of its kind in the world—and lucrative company will give this basic opportunity to the animals you breed and ship out and that (b) you have removed the above false and misleading claims from your website and any other materials. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Daniel Paden
Vice President of Evidence Analysis





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