The failed online petition by Shane Hunter and other known liars and other relevant matters.
Dear all, for some time now there has been a concerted campaign of lies and misinformation against myself, Raymond Hoser by Shane Hunter, David Williams and others with an axe to grind against me.
As the late Graeme Gow once said “Anyone who is anti-Hoser is anti-conservation”.
Gow said this in the context of myself being the “front man” campaigning for the right of private individuals to keep reptiles in captivity. It was a battle that I ultimately won and that now benefits reptile keepers throughout Australia.
Gow’s statement also rings true at the present time.
Time and space constraints limit me from detailing all the lies and false information by the misfits who continually defame Raymond Hoser (me), however the following should be noted.
Hunter, David Williams (posting under countless pseudonyms) and other associates between them have convictions for reptile smuggling and as a result have been adversely named in various books by myself (Smuggled (1993) and Smuggled-2 (1996)). Williams was also found guilty of cruelty to reptiles some years ago.
Some of the relevant people now defaming myself recently had to pay a sizeable damages amount to myself for the illegal use of my snakebusters trademarks for a series of TV shows engaging in unspeakable acts of reptile cruelty while “on screen”, adding to their incentive to blacken my good name.
These people also lost no fewer than three legal actions to remove and quash my lawful ownership of the snakebuster/s trademarks which I still own.
To further their aims they have petitioned various web forum people to remove posts defending myself and even “ban” persons who dare publish the truth about myself and related matters.
Hence we now find the internet littered with false and defamatory claims about myself and my business enterprises.
The battle front at the moment has been a series of false claims made against myself and the first ever successful operations on Australian snakes to surgically remove their venom glands (making them non-venomous or “venomoid” as is generally known).
In terms of the venomoid operation, these false claims probably do no one much harm, save for myself and my business interests. However as the person who first revealed the presence of a group of viruses decimating Australian snakes, my papers on this subject have also been the subject of sustained attack and misinformation by the so-called “anti-Hoser brigade”.
As a result of this misinformation by the anti-Hoser people, a sizeable portion of the Australian reptile keeper community is still in the dark about what they should or shouldn’t do if confronted by viruses and the upshot has become a continued spread of reoviruses and OPMV in Australia. These viruses should in theory have been checked at the time of my original papers (2003), yet are apparently running ever more rampant in 2006 than back then!
Due to a general lack of assets by these “anti-Hoser” people were are also effectively precluded from suing these people for damages as in the event of a win, we are liable to find ourselves unable to actually get any damages (we, means including myself, my company, lawyers and staff). Damages here means “money”.
Hunter and others have also some months ago started a campaign against myself and the ground-breaking venomoid surgery performed by me some years ago, being the first ever successful venomoid operations in Australian history. Venomoid snakes are those who have had their venom glands surgically removed. The snakes look and act normal and cannot be identified as venomoid by merely looking at them. In summary, the main advantage of venomoid surgery is that the relevant snakes are freed from the ongoing cruelty of being handled with sticks and the like (in that they are now “free handled” in the same manner as a harmless python).
This so-called “anti-venomoid” campaign is masked as an anti-cruelty effort, but is fraudulent and easily shown as such … the entire campaign being based on false claims and the like.
Complaints repeatedly made to various government authorities have quite correctly been dismissed as malicious and vexatious.
These complaints have not been limited to the venomoid issue, but have also included false claims against me of “reptile theft”, using non-venomoid snakes at shopping malls and so on.
The upshot of some of these have been raids and the like, all which has resulted in waste of time and money by the various government officials, who in theory should be attending to serious matters of work safety, crime and the like.
Some corrections to the widespread misinformation littering the internet about the Venomoid snakes is given below.
I had hoped the false claims and associated petition would die a “natural death” but Hunter and friends, including one Mark Richmond have also gone so far as to broadcast such lies on national radio.
Hence I have made the judgment call that an online published rebuttal of some of the more prominent claims is appropriate. Hopefully it will not add too much fuel to the fire being burnt by this crowd of misfits whom it seems have nothing constructive to add to the world.
There is no doubt that quotes will be taken out of context and misrepresented, but that is trademark of Hunter and others.
However also giving myself and my company grief are the incessant claims that we are performing venomoid surgery on a regular basis. This is not so and for the record we do not sell venomoid snakes for money to anyone. We never have done.
We don’t do operations for free for anyone either.
There are numerous reasons why, including:
- Liability – what happens if someone confuses a “fixed snake” for a normal one and gets bit and dies. Even if I were to win the claim, the cost of defending it may send me broke?
- Who do we do operation for? If we do for one person, we’d have to do for all. It is easier to simply say “no” to everyone.
- I (Hoser) am not a practicing vet and hence by law cannot operate on a person’s animals for money, “in kind” etc. Even “probing” a snake for a third party is questionable in law (see below), but for practical reasons is allowed by the licensing authorities, which is a position I agree with.
- Health issues – what happens if a person’s snake is voided and it dies for some other reason (not related to the operation), such as from a virus, attack by other reptile, mites, etc? Would the surgeon (me?) get blamed.
- Other reasons.
However every time Hunter or others starts a thread attacking me on the web, people look up the operations on the net and a sizeable number contact me seeking venomoid snakes (either sold or operated on).
Then time is wasted explaining to the person that we cannot do this for them or anyone else.
Vet surgeons I know are now quoting $1000 a venomoid operation and then people call me “shopping” for a cheaper deal, which is of course declined.
However, what has emerged is that the continued protests against venomoid surgery is in fact fuelling demand for them as people seek out the facts and conclude that the operation can be done safely (for the snake) and that there are benefits in the final outcome for both snake and handler.
As stated in the original paper, the need for venomoids is limited and as stated in the original venomoid paper, most snake keepers do not have an need for venomoids. As stated in the venomoid papers, venomoids are not a short-cut to keeping non-venomous snakes and should not be touted as such.
As stated in the original papers, venomoids have many useful applications and in the context of snakes that are frequently handled for the purposes of public demonstrations (in our case, most days of the year), these snakes are eminently sensible.
Failure to venomoid deadly elapid snakes that are handled daily for demonstrations, the alternative being “sticking”, “heading”, “tailing” and the like, is an act of cruelty to the said snakes and was the central basis for venomoiding all the elapids we use for our educational demonstrations.
The Shane Hunter petition has been an abject failure for several reasons.
In rebuttal of the continual raft of false statements by Shane Hunter and others, the following easily verified facts are given here.
1 - No venomoid operations have been done here (by myself) for some years. This is due to the fact that a long time ago, all the snakes we needed to make venomoid were done and they are not dropping off like flies as alleged on the web.
2 - We do not sell venomoid snakes or do operations for anyone else and never have done. Hence there has not been profiteering from the snakes as is continually claimed by our critics.
3 - The relevant snakes (and all other reptiles here) are regularly inspected by a qualified vet surgeon (known to the authorities) and with two decades of relevant experience. This includes before, during and after the operation procedures. More than a year ago and well-predating the Hunter petition, the vet “signed off” on the relevant reptiles for the purposes of an interstate demonstrating permit that was granted and executed.
4 - The veterinary inspections of the venomoid snakes was not a mere “look through glass” type of process as are many vet operations of reptiles. The snakes were all handled and inspected by hand to see closely the snakes, including the jaw areas where the operations were done. This includes the likes of Tiger Snakes, Taipans, Death Adders, etc. By the way, this vet is a reptile keeper!
5 - Contrary to the lies peddled by Hunter and others, the venomoid snakes do not regenerate venom and they do not need venom to digest their food.
6 - Contrary to the lies by Hunter and others, there is no cruelty to the snakes at any stage. Pain and suffering in snakes is easily measured and this is seen daily in (non-snakebusters) venomous snakes shows where snakes are hook handled, “pinned”, “necked” or “tailed” (including pre-cloacal), where snakes seek to bite their handler as a reaction to ongoing pain and stress inflicted by the handler. That our venomoids of all taxa choose not to attempt to bite is testimony to the ongoing lack of pain and stress in these snakes. Noting that the relevant snakes do live snake shows more than 300 days a year (usually more than one a day), failure to make the snakes venomoid would be an act of cruelty and then our snakes would be dropping off like flies! There have been numerous calls by animal activists for the removal of snake shows requiring use of metal implements to control the snakes.
7 - It is noteworthy that reptile demonstrators from three states have approached snakebusters to make their own snakes venomoid because they see the advantages to the relevant snakes. It is also notable that in the wake of our declining to operate on other people’s snakes that some of these people have now chosen to petition against us, which is an act of gross dishonesty.
8 - Hunter and other petitioners have complained about our surgical procedures. The general thrust of the claims is that they are unclean and improper. The claims are false. All cutting and related tools are clean and sterile and/or made such via surface spray as needed.
9 - Contrary to the Hunter et al claims, we do use appropriate drugs post operation as required. These are supplied by vet surgeons who are the legal suppliers of such things. We consult with vet surgeons on a regular basis for a host of matters, not due to any legal requirements, but rather because we seek our reptiles to be as healthy and happy as possible. We seek the best and where two heads are better than one, we utilize these resources.
Unfortunately it seems that with the anti-Hoser crowd, empty vessals make most noise and after several years of continual false statements and criticisms, no advice from any of these people has been able to be adopted and used for any benefit of our reptiles or ourselves. If and when constructive advice is given, it would be immediately adopted if appropriate.
10 - Cold torpor as used in the operations is not cruel or painful (reptiles suffer this on a daily basis in the wild!). It has the added benefit over chemical sedation in that bleeding is reduced, eliminating the need to cauterize with soldering iron and hence removes development of unwanted scar tissue. There has been a published study (not mine) in a peer reviewed journal comparing chemical sedation with cold torpor specifically with reference to venomoid surgery and it found in favor of cold torpor.
11 - Other aspects of the Hoser operations (innovations by Hoser) have been criticized by Hunter and others. These critics have no knowledge of veterinary or similar procedures and the criticisms have no sound basis. The Hoser innovations have however been endorsed by practicing vet surgeons, some of whom have used some or all of these practices for their own reptile operations (not necessarily venomoid surgery). These innovations included: 1 – The means to maintain cold torpor, 2 - the use of a wood board with nails and sticky tape to position a snake pre-operation and during it, 3 – Going through the tissue in the roof of the mouth to access the venom glands prior to removal. 4 – The use of rubber band/s in terms of the venomoid operation (seen positioning the upper jaw, usually running over the fangs).
By way of example the definitive reptile reference for vets (Doug Mader’s book, second edition) just published this year (2006), shows a photo of “tape on board” positioning of a snake as first used by Hoser (myself) more than three years earlier as well as a venomoid operation by a US-based vet using the same methods as employed by myself. The rubber band/s used to position the snake’s head (Pre-op and during) are easier to maneuver than surgical wire and do not cut into the snake’s flesh as would wire. They are also used to “Bleed” the fangs of venom pre-operation as a safety measure and reduce safety risks during the operation, especially in conjunction with irrigation of the relevant area. While rubber bands were an innovation for the venomoid surgery, they are commonly used elsewhere in medical procedure. Not all materials used for surgery are necessarily bright and silver!
12 – There has never been any experimentation on live snakes in terms of the venomoid operations. The Hoser operations were unusual in that all experimentation (trial and error?) was done on dead snakes. This is also relevant as this made me experienced in the procedure before any operations were done on any live snakes.
13 – A common claim used against myself is that the operation is “invasive” and “illegal” and that myself (Hoser) should be prohibited from doing such operations, even if doing so with veterinary surgeons present. The same persons making this claim have posted on “APS” and elsewhere their own “methods” of dealing with “skin worms”. They advocated cutting into the flesh of an awake and unsedated snake to remove the parasites. Hence these same people are guilty of some of the claims they continually make against myself. However in their case they are not qualified in what they are doing and have no prior experience in what they are advocating, noting that unlike venom glands which are always in the same relative position, skinworms may come in a range of configurations, none of which can be accurately deduced prior to cutting. Worse still these people have not had the benefit of experimenting on dead animals first to get their techniques correct. One such example of this “Illegal and invasive surgery” is seen at:
Where the correspondent wrote:
“2 person job - swab the skin with disinfectant, make a small nick in the skin between the scales at the site, and gently squeeze or pull the worm out (yukky!) Swab again, and move on to the next one. The other person holds the snake!”
much what J said. Ya sorta thumb the worm out like squeezing a pimple. You'll
be surprised at how big some of them are. Be careful if they break coming out.
One of the vocal anti-Hoser petitioners himself wrote:
“I had to squeeze the skin worm out and clean the area. I also had him on anti-biotics. As you are no doubt aware they are picked up from eating frogs (for those that didn't).”
He is not a qualified licenced vet and there is no evidence he was working with a vet at the time he did his “pimple squeezing”.
13A - The same argument can be used to seek to ban sexing reptiles by “probing” as it is an invasive procedure that can lead to death of a reptile if not performed correctly, noting that Hunter’s associates do this (probing) on a regular basis. For the record, I, Raymond Hoser, have probed reptiles for many years for countless people (never for payment) and so far no one has advocated I cease this practice and/or be prosecuted for doing so (see above).
14 – The week that Hunter first promoted his “petition” a qualified PhD, with qualifications in the relevant area, was quoted in a major Victorian daily newspaper endorsing the Hoser operations and all associated matters, and effectively rebutting all the key claims as made by Hunter and others in their petition.
15 – Contrary to the claims by Hunter and others, we do not hand out Tiger Snakes and other deadly Victorian taxa at parties, events and so on willy nilly as claimed. However upon request from adults we deem responsible, we do allow handling of the venomoids under strictly controlled circumstances. This includes fellow reptile enthusiasts, most of whom actively seek permission to have themselves and often their children photographed with the venomoids, which have achieved a degree of celebrity status, in part fuelled by the petition designed to stop these snakes.
One of the main complaints we get from people after our demonstrations is our alleged over-emphasising that wild snakes of any kind should never be approached due to the inability of most people to be able to differentiate many of the hundreds of similar taxa found in the wild. We include in this advice Carpet Snakes which we say can be confused with venomous taxa.
16 – Hunter and associates have a deep fear of the truth. Hence their constant avoidance of relevant facts and deliberate lies (e.g. On 13 Nov 2006, Hunter wrote on his site:” he is still performing illegal venomoid surgery at his unlicensed butcher shop. This fool must be stopped at all costs! Hoser the venom gland hacker stated on his propaganda forum some months back that he would not do more surgery”).
Well, Hunter was lying again as no more operations had in fact been performed, although I did advise a local vet on fixing up a sick tortoise! … Er, they don’t have venom glands (Bryan Fry hasn’t looked at them yet!).
To allow their lies to gain currency, Hunter and others have successfully petitioned forum owners to ban Hoser and anyone else supporting Hoser from posting, leading to a warped and dishonest representation of things on these sites.
The damage from this banning of truth from these forums goes beyond venomoid (mis) information and includes the likes of reptile taxonomy and disease maintenance of captive reptiles, including newly spreading viruses, which have unnecessarily destroyed large numbers of reptiles, in part due to the inability of people to access correct information from web-forums and/or wrong information being posted by self-appointed experts with no direct experience in the relevant field.
What Hunter has failed to disclose is that my reptile licence has limits on the number of each taxa that I can keep (10) and in terms of the key ones (e.g. Tiger Snakes), I’ve been at that number for years. Hence there are physical limitations as to what I can have and give the “chop” to.
Then there is the alternative complaint made to authorities in March 2006, that “Raymond Hoser has an unfair commercial advantage with his venomoids”, which obviously means that none of his rivals are getting venomoids from him … no other operations have been performed!
In other words, by not venomoiding snakes for other people Hoser gets complaints from Hunter and others and if he did venomoid them for other people, he’d get complaints from the same people. A no-win situation!
17 - There is no doubt that a lot of the people against Hoser’s venomoids are envious that Hoser and associates can handle deadly elapids in a manner that they could only dream of. They also hate to see their adversary gaining photo opportunities and publicity with these reptiles.
For example one so-called snake-handler complained when he failed to get a newspaper mention of his traveling snake show. The year before “snakebuster Raymond Hoser” featured on the front page of the regional city’s paper with a photo of himself covered in some of the world’s deadliest elapids.
Some other critics are the same people who have in the past claimed bravado for free-handling one or two elapids at a time. Venomoids trump any of this!
But, notwithstanding the ego-trippers like David Williams, who has frequently boasted of his alleged skills in free-handling elapids and not getting bitten (too often?), the main basis of making snakes venomoid is not for the benefit of the handler, although that is line peddled by the “Hoser haters”.
I use sticks to handle wild elapids on a regular basis and I do not suffer in any way. The main benefit of venomoid surgery is for the (obviously captive) snake, in that it no longer needs to be subjected to the pain and suffering of sticking, necking, tailing and hooking. Yes, free-handling of the snake is the aim of venomoid surgery and whether in public or “at home” venomoid snakes are as a rule, never exposed to hooks, sticks and the like.
17a – Because venomoid snakes are more harmless than pythons (less teeth), there is no risk of adverse bite. Claims of unexpected envenomation, “infection” and the like are rot in the real world. We have the benefit of experience in that myself and licenced handlers and one veterinary student have been bitten by venomoids and guess what? Nothing happened to any of us. By the way, our snakes are regularly checked and guess what? None have ever regenerated a drop of venom.
Notwithstanding this first hand fact, the internet is littered with claims of the Hoser venomoids being dangerous because they may be regenerating venom.
Every time a snake handler is hospitalized by their “pet snake” or through a bite at a show, there are calls to outlaw reptile keeping and/or the use of elapids. The use of venomoids for frequently used demonstration snakes is eminently sensible for people wanting to maintain the legal right to keep reptiles in captivity and at least one licencing official was considering making venomoids mandatory for demonstrators so as to safeguard reptile keepers hard won rights.
Within the last year, someone who worked in association with a rival reptile demonstrator was bitted by a Tiger Snake and he was hospitalized. The story got to the media. There were calls to outlaw reptile keeping in Victoria and as “the snakebuster” I was the man who hosed this down. In summary, I successfully used the argument that police and horses each kill more people than snakes and we don’t ban either of them.
18– Last year the Hoser facility bred more elapids than any other facility in Victoria. That venomoids are able to breed in such quantity, is testament to the success of the operations. We are on track for a similar performance for 2006-7. If the snakes were suffering, they would not breed. This year we are aiming for breeding the “local big five”, namely Copperhead, Tiger, Black, Brown and Death Adder and we’ll probably end up giving the lot away!
By the way, the venomoid operations are not done in the garage as claimed by the “anti-Hoser brigade”. Unfortunately, it is full of filing cabinets.
Also, our venomoids have been valued at about $2,000 a snake making them Australia’s most expensive elapids. The valuation isn’t because we sell them … we don’t. But rather because the new building we have constructed for them has been valued at over $60,000 to build and fit out. It’s unlikely anyone else in Australia spends so much on such lowly taxa as Tiger Snakes, Copperheads, Death Adders, Taipans, etc.
19 - Hunter and associates, including for example Mark Richmond and John Lucas have failed to disclose the following. They are novice (new to the hobby) reptile people with very limited knowledge of and expertise in reptiles. They have not disclosed that some of them (e.g. Richmond and Lucas) have recently (within the last year) been licenced to do live reptile demonstrations in shopping malls and the like. They have chosen to hide this fact as a central basis for their campaign against Hoser is to remove the largest competing reptile demonstrator from the scene so that they can steal his company’s work and/or tout for work without having to aim for the higher standards achieved by Hoser and company.
20 - What Hunter and others have also failed to do publicly, is state what should actually happen to the snakes that Hoser has that are venomoids and have been for some years. We have been advised that a number of these people have petitioned authorities to seize and “euthanaze” (that means kill) the snakes. This is the ultimate cruelty, especially as if left alone, they are likely to live and breed for many more years as well be used to educate the general public about snakes, including that there is more to snakes than just killing people.
This communication is hosted at:
Venomoid snakes – the paper with the first operations is at:
Later articles at:
Photos of venomoid snakes are at:
A photo of venomoid Red-bellied Black Snakes mating in 2005 is at:
Venomoid snakes – research directions and shattering myths.
The Hoser venomoid snakes have enabled world-first research and observations to be made on venomous snake species that have in many ways re-written what we thought we knew about venomous and other snakes.
A few of the original Hoser findings have been published in journals already and others will be in journals in due course.
Some findings include:
- Elapid snakes are (as a rule) by nature less inclined to bite non-food animals than the non-venomous pythons. This holds true for allegedly aggressive dangerous species like Eastern Brown Snakes and Taipans. (This must be taken in the context that most wild snakes of any taxa try to flee and bite). This fact could also be inferred from a study of the skull anatomy and feeding habits.
- Snakes hate one another far more than they hate humans and while a well-handled captive snake may lose fear of humans, snake-snake interactions remain at full alert.
- The main limiting factor on the distribution of snakes is not habitats (as previously thought), but rather it is other snakes, although all factors have a role.