SAFETY HARBOR, Fla. - A Safety Harbor woman has many exotic friends that she keeps as pets. Her love for owning snakes started when her and her husband attended Repto-Con because of her husbands pet bearded dragon. She says she fell in love with ball pythons upon walking into that event.
Jill Harper Judd has a science background in studying the animals and their genetics. She says her science background is useful because she can use her studies to help herself learn about the exotic creatures and the can help her in her teachings.
She has since started breeding ball pythons and selling them to people as pets. Even though this is just a hobby for her, Jill says she breeds and sells enough of them to be able to buy their food and the supplies to take care of them.
These snakes are originally from Africa. They are often caught in the wild.
"They have been bred in captivity in the states for about 30 years give or take now, which is really a good thing because the population in Africa was being affected by all of the people catching them in the wild and selling them to hobbyists so my snakes are captive bred," she said. "I don't have any that are wild caught."
In South Florida, many people keep these exotic animals as pets but release them into the wild. People do this because these snakes grow to be very large so they take up a lot of space. However, the problem with this tactic is when they are released they become an inasive species.