700 Exotic Reptiles and Rodents Found Dead at a California Breeding Facility

A large-scale reptile-breeding business was shut down after allegations of neglect prompted an investigation.

A woma python is among the multitude of snakes sold by Global Captive Breeders
A 'woma python' like this one is among the multitude of exotic snakes sold by Global Captive Breeders. (Photo: Nature's Images/Getty Images)
A Bay Area native, Andri Antoniades has previously worked as a fashion industry journalist and a medical writer.

Unscrupulous dog breeders often find themselves at the center of animal cruelty scandals, but for one reptile breeder in California, a massive death investigation prompted its closure this week. Over 700 dead reptiles and rodents were found at the Lake Elsinore, Calif., company and officials are still trying to figure out exactly why.

Global Captive Breeders (GCB) is a 6,100-square-foot facility that breeds a variety of reptiles, including a large stable of exotic snakes, as well as the rats necessary to feed them.

Acting on complaints from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), as well as several other unnamed sources, officials responded to allegations of animal neglect at the company. Upon paying the GCB a visit, they found hundreds of its animals dead.

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The Press-Enterprise reports that animal control officers also found over 600 live snakes and up to 10,000 live rats in the building. They counted filth among “other problems” discovered during their investigation, which continues as volunteers try to figure out how to dispose of the carcasses, as well as where to place the company’s remaining rodents and reptiles.

Approximately 30 volunteers from animal care agencies across four states have been called in for the clean up and among them, four veterinarians who are assessing the health of the facility’s surviving inhabitants. No one has been arrested as of yet.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Willa Bagwell, executive director of Animal Friends of the Valleys, which is participating in the rescue effort, said, “Our primary focus at this point is to ensure the health and well-being of the animals on the site.”

What’s perplexing is that Global Captive Breeders’ website claims it’s a “state of the art facility,” one that’s made recent improvements to ensure the animals’ well-being, including facility-wide temperature controls, ceiling fans and swamp coolers. It even boasts a special diet fed to its rodent colony.

Nonetheless, the massive amount of animal carcasses found onsite are proof that something went terribly wrong. In a facility that large, can the animals’ safety and proper care really be assured? There’s no information about how many people GCB employs, but obviously whatever efforts were given to ensure the animals’ well-being fell far short of accomplishing that goal.

It’s true that rodents and reptiles are hardly the cuddliest of the animal kingdom’s creatures, but breeding them for sale assigns the seller a responsibility to ensure not only their survival, but their overall welfare. Treating them as a commodity on which to build such a massive business can and did have tragic repercussions, ones that ultimately could have been avoided.

Do you think if pet breeders were limited in the number of animals they could raise at one time that this tragedy may have been prevented? Let us know what you think in the Comments.

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