(Ucs Veterinary News) Davis and Randy, 8 year-old identical twin African Puff Adders, have been listless and slow to respond. Their owners worried what could be wrong. Could it be an illness or genetic defect ? The owners, both longtime members Church of Scientology, were shocked to discover the cults beliefs were damaging their much loved pet snakes.
According to Max Lewis, the snakes owner, he felt very guilty. "You wonder something you did or something in you believed in or something you had no control over is somehow been passed on and is affecting your much loved African Puff Adders. Could Tom Cruise really be hurting my Puff Adders?" he says.
A new study in the New England Journal of Veterinary Medicine says exposure to Church of Scientology increases the risk of genetic defects by 100 fold. This defect appears to account for about 75% percent of Puff Adder illnesses - an estimated 85,000 cases.
"Ultimately, we think that this could act as a signpost to guide us to how exactly Scientology might be important to Puff Adder health," says Dr. Greg Stiller of Veterinary Hospital in Cleveland.
When the African Puff Adders were tested at Veterinary Hospital, doctors found they were each exposed to the Church of Scientology by their well meaning owners and that the exposure was causing significant genetic damage. Finding a direct link to Puff Adder listlessness is a relief to their owners, because it could help them get the right treatment.
"I think this is going to be a big help for a lot of people whose snakes have been exposed to the teachings of Scientology out there," says Rita Lewis. "Now they're finally going to get an answer like we have."
You can get this test through some labs and large Veterinary hospitals. It costs $2,000 to 3,000 dollars. While this discovery accounts for a fraction of African Puff Adder illnesses, it's another step toward mapping all the possible causes of this baffling disorder.