End Cruel Practices in the Snakeskin Trade

Target: John Scanlon, Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna

Goal: Enforce existing laws to end the cruel treatment of snakes

Snakeskin has been a popular material with fashion houses for decades, but the lack of regulation surrounding its procurement has resulted in inhumane practices across Southeast Asia. Snakes are brutally killed while still fully conscious, often before they reach the reproductive stage. The ever-growing desire for snakeskin in Europe and the United States fuels this poorly regulated industry, and the financial benefits are obvious. A man in Indonesia can sell a snakeskin for $30, and the fashion house he sells it to will create a bag worth $15,000.

The industry is sadly under-regulated, and while the law states that only domesticated pythons can be traded, it is hard to tell where the snakeskins are coming from, and how the snake was raised. Wild pythons are being captured and sold, and their skins are then smuggled to Europe. Those who sell the skins claim that these wild pythons were “captive,” and those buying the skins don’t ask questions. This practice of killing wild pythons is leading to a decrease in their population—because so many are killed before they are able to reproduce, there are fewer and fewer wild pythons being born in the wild.

The methods used to kill the snakes are all brutal. In Indonesia and Malaysia, the still conscious snake may be decapitated, or it may receive a violent strike to the back of its skull.  More disturbingly, in Vietnam the snakes are inflated with air compressors until they finally suffocate.

The fur industry has always received a lot of attention from animal rights activists, and the snakeskin trade has been almost completely neglected. The snakeskin industry must be better regulated, both to protect the world’s snakes, and to take one more step towards a more humane fashion industry.


Dear Secretary-General John Scanlon,

While the snakeskin industry is both lucrative and hard to track, it is imperative that measures be taken to ensure the protection of snakes worldwide. Snakes play an important role in both global and local ecosystems, and the effects of their decrease are incalculable. The international community has a duty to protect these important members of our global community, and this can be accomplished by enforcing already existing regulations, as well as establishing new ones.

These new regulations would have to ensure more humane and universal methods of killing–the practices in use today are deplorable. It is time the international community worked together to advocate for a healthier and more successful snakeskin industry. The issues surrounding the industry are not well-known, but they must be eradicated. By raising awareness and advocating for this cause, the international community will be able to provide the enforcement and legislation necessary to protect these animals, and our planet.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: David~O via Flickr

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One Comment

  1. The appearance of any animal does not preclude the basic fundamentals of any living being in that we all have a nervous system and sensors to pain and the environment. Otherwise, no species would survive.

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