The state of Florida is holding a Burmese python killing contest, because people have been abandoning the snakes in the wild after they realize that it's difficult to keep a 12-foot carnivorous snake as a pet.
The goal of the Python Challenge is to "raise public awareness about Burmese pythons and how this invasive species is a threat to the Everglades ecosystem, including native wildlife." I can think of better ways to raise awareness.
There are animal rights reasons for not keeping pets at all. But the arguments against exotic pets, especially large, predatory animals, go beyond animal rights. Proper treatment and confinement of the animals is an issue, along with concerns about keeping a wild animal in a cage, and danger to the community.
Although the stated goal is raising public awareness, the main effect of the contest is demonizing the snakes and reveling in their deaths. Like in trophy hunting, the killings are trivialized and the animals' lifeless bodies are treated as prizes.
If the snakes are truly threatening the ecosystem and other wildlife, no one would object to their removal and release in a more suitable habitat. It's the least we owe them, because people brought them to the U.S., bred them, sold them and bought them. It's not the snakes' fault.
If you want a snake or any kind of pet, and are sure that you can provide a lifetime of proper care, check with shelters, rescue groups and Petfinder.com. Just about any kind of animal, including exotic animals, are available for adoption.
Image courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission