Captive Bred or Wild Caught Ė Native Wild Caught?
The Downside of Wild Caught (WC)
Wild caught (non-native) generally means the animal has been imported from another country. The most prevalent downsides of importation are parasites, health issues, high mortality rates both during importation and after distribution to pet stores, and ecological impact.
For the pet owner, there is the higher risk of losing the animal to a problem, and the pet owner has no way of knowing the animalís true age. It could be newly adult, or it could be a senior citizen.
Taking these animals from the wild also has an impact on the environment. These animals have survived and thrived in the wild. The removal of adults from the wild leaves fewer to replenish the population. The Egyptian Tortoise was wiped out in its native country of Egypt when exporters learned it was to be added to the Endangered Species list. They began exporting as many as possible before the deadline, and they succeeded in wiping out the population. This species did not do well in captivity and many died.
Ultimately, the exporting of wild caught reptiles and amphibians from their native country is a money issue. These animals are picked from the wild to be sold. Many die in transport. Many die during efforts to acclimate them to captivity. Many die from parasites.
Rescuing from a Pet Store
Donít do it. I canít stress this enough. I know it sounds cold, but pet stores and suppliers are about money. Supply and demand. If you buy a reptile or amphibian in an effort to ďsaveĒ it, because it looks ill or is being kept in bad conditions, you may help the animal, but youíre also paving the way for yet another member of that species to be purchased by that pet store and sold to yet another sympathetic customer.
Itís true that if you donít buy it, it may die (if the pet store doesnít act in its best interest), but that store will think twice about buying another when it couldnít sell the first.
Native Wild Caught
Aside from the fact that taking animals from the wild is illegal in most U.S. states (and may be prohibited by Federal law), it has the same collection of downsides as buying a non-native wild caught, except since youíre the one taking the animal, you know its trip hasnít been rough. BUT, it is most likely full of parasites and the mortality of these animals is high if they go untreated. Found animals need the same care as purchased ones, and this often doesnít happen either.
Tadpoles are one exception to this rule. You can legally collect tadpoles and raise them through metamorphosis, but you must release them when theyíve completed the process.
These animals were basically hatched from clutches laid by recently imported gravid (heavy with eggs) females. They are the fruits of damaging labors. The female was taken from the wild where she would have helped her species to continue. Instead, an importer is profiting off natureís loss.
Except for the fact that they tend to be more expensive, I canít think of a down side to buying CB! They are not exposed to the parasites and havenít developed any dietary issues (such as wild caught ball pythons who like to starve to death waiting for their preferred prey). They are handled young, and you always know the age of the animal.
In addition, purchasing CB does not have an impact on the environment, because these animals were never IN the environment. You should, however, never ever release a CB animal into the wild especially when itís a non-native species.
Help out the people who are putting their efforts into breeding animals in captivity. They are helping the wild populations continue to rebuild, and they are offering you a higher quality animal. Of course, choose your breeder carefully and make sure the animalís description reads ďCBĒ or Captive Bred.