|Born||Raymond Terrence Hoser
1962 (age 51–52)
|Other names||Wayne King, Snake Man|
|Alma mater||University of Sydney|
Raymond Terrence Hoser (born 1962, United Kingdom) is a self-described Australian herpetologist, snake-catcher, and author. Since 1976 he has written books and articles about official corruption in Australia. He has also authored works on Australian frogs and reptiles and operates a snake handling business, Snakebusters, in Melbourne. Hoser's work is controversial, such as his advocacy of venomoid snakes.
Hoser has published several works as a whistleblower, in a 1998 radio interview he said that he was "known as an anti-corruption crusader". An analysis of his work by the Rationalist Society of Australia referred to him as a "tireless investigator" and he has received praise from Brian Martin, a former president of Whistleblowers Australia.
In 1995 Hoser published, The Hoser Files, detailing his encounters with Victoria Police and the Road Traffic Authority in Melbourne whilst working as a taxi driver (Hoser had moved to Victoria in 1985).
Hoser has also contributed to the taxonomy of Australian snakes, describing new species and new genera, and suggesting revisions to current arrangements. The majority of these nominations have not been accepted. Hoser's work has been a source of controversy in the field of herpetology, with a 2001 review in Litteratura Serpentium strongly criticising his publications as "less than professional", describing them as a source of confusion and wasted effort. The review claimed that Hoser provided no description of the holotype or type specimen for most of his new species, and argued that Hoser's alleged errors could have been avoided had the articles been published in a peer-reviewed, rather than amateur and non-institutional, journal. Charges of ethical misconduct were made in this article. Further criticism of Hoser's work was published in 2006, in a review that stated that "the level of evidence provided by Hoser to justify his taxonomic acts is minimal" and charged that several of his publications appear to have been made with the intention of scooping other workers in the field, behavior that the authors described as "ethically repugnant".
Some of Hoser's papers have been published and discussed in scientific journals in Australia and elsewhere; however, other papers have been published in journals that critics claim are amateur or self-published, non-peer reviewed journals. In a 2007 article in Nature on amateur naturalists Hoser responded to criticisms of his work by stating, "The description of me as an amateur is complete rubbish", he said. "There's no one in history who has spent so much time dealing with, looking at, catching and breeding death adders as myself." He is the author of the valid names and descriptions for Pseudechis pailsei and Acanthophis wellsi, snakes in the Elapidae family. Hoser's work on the taxonomy of the Pythoninae has been partially confirmed by later phylogenetic studies, but has not been officially recognized.
In 2009, Hoser started his own journal, the Australasian Journal of Herpetology, for which he is editor and, as of November 2013, the sole contributing author.
In 2012, Hoser received criticism from several crocodile zoologists after he named what he claimed to be new species of pygmy freshwater crocodile, based on a single population discovered in 1979 in the upper Liverpool River in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territories of Australia by noted zoologist and current IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group Chair Grahame Webb. Grahame Webb argued that the crocodiles were a merely clinal variation of the Johnston crocodile which is stunted in size because of lack of food in the area, and not a new species. Crocodile geneticist Sally Isberg stated that Hoser had not presented the required molecular genetic data to prove that a new species exists and claimed that Hoser's journal is not peer-reviewed.
In 2013 a group of international herpetologists published a paper in the Herpetological Review, a peer-reviewed publication of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. The paper, which included the names of over 60 of the world's academic herpetologists as supporters, and many of the major societies including the World Congress of Herpetology, set out to put a stop to the "taxonomic vandalism" of Hoser and another self-publishing herpetologist, Richard Wells. It dismissed as unscientific, and lacking in evidence, scientific rigor, or credibility, the huge number of names coined by Hoser since 2000, mostly in his self-published, self-edited, single-authored Australasian Journal of Herpetology, and provided authors with the original or alternative, more acceptable, names. The paper also dealt with a smaller number of names coined by Wells.
In 2013, the British Herpetological Society and the Dutch herpetological association adopted resolutions censuring Hoser for naming reptiles without scientific evidence or peer review and what they deemed as "vanity publishing".
Hoser is an author and publisher of a number of books and a website on frogs and reptiles, and has a business as a snake handler. He runs the website smuggled.com, which contains articles about official corruption and reptiles. Hoser runs a business called Snakebusters in Melbourne, providing reptiles for children's birthday parties and catching and moving snakes in urban areas. As part of his business, Hoser claims the title "Snakeman" (and others) as trademarks and has asked a number of people, including New South Wales volunteer snake-catcher George Ellis and Gold Coast snake catcher Tony Harrison, to cease using the name "snakeman".
Hoser is an advocate of venomoid snakes, surgically altered to remove venom, and has published discussion on this topic, and promoted the procedure on his website. These animals are kept as pets, or used in exhibitions to the general public, and the procedure is regarded as controversial. A 2008 government tribunal ruled that Hoser's venomoid snakes cannot be handled by members of the public, due to the risk of the venom glands regrowing. VCAT Deputy President Anne Coghlan found Hoser had no qualifications, no training and produced no scientific evidence to back up his claims.
In 2001 the Victorian Supreme Court used the offence of scandalising the court to fine Hoser $5,000 after he published names of two county court judges and two magistrates in a book entitled Victoria Police Corruption with allegations of bias and improper conduct. Hoser's 2003 appeal against the charge was unsuccessful and he was found guilty of a second contempt charge which was originally dismissed.
In 2011 Hoser was convicted and fined $12,000 in the County Court for demonstrating with venomous snakes less than three metres from the public, working in accessible pits and demonstrating in a way that put the animals at risk of theft. Hoser allowed his 10-year-old daughter to be bitten by a taipan and a death adder to demonstrate that his "venomoid" snakes were harmless. The manager of the shopping center where Hoser performed claimed that Hoser's performance was not consistent with his act description and said that Hoser would not be allowed back. Following this incident, the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) suspended Hoser's commercial wildlife demonstrator license and his authorisation to hold snake-handling courses and use wildlife in film and television. Hoser said that he would apply to the courts for an emergency injunction against this suspension.
In May 2013, Hoser appealed to the Victoria Court of Appeals in an attempt to overturn the Department of Sustainability and Environment's (DSE) decision to cancel his wildlife demonstrators licence and Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) deputy president Judge Pamela Jenkins's decision in 2012 to uphold that DSE cancellation of his license. Judge Jenkins had found Hoser intentionally allowed 2 snakes to bite his daughter 7 times, and compromised both the safety of the audience and the welfare of the snakes during his demonstration. Justice Robert Redlich of the Court of Appeals recommended that Hoser hire a lawyer to represent him (rather than representing himself) and adjourned the hearing until June 13, 2013.
Candidate for local government
- 1998. A new snake from Queensland, Australia (Serpentes: Elapidae). Monitor 10, 5–9.
- 2000. A new species of snake (Serpentes: Elapidae) from Irian Jaya. Litt. Serpentium 20, 178–186.
- Hoser R (2001) A current assessment of the status of the snakes of the genera Cannia and Pailsus, including descriptions of three new subspecies from the Northern Territory and Western Australia, Australia. J Herpetol Soc Queensl 2001:26–60
- 2002. An overview of the taipans, genus (Oxyuranus) (Serpentes: Elapidae), including the description of a new subspecies. Crocodilian – J. Vic. Assoc. Amat. Herpetol. 3, 43–50.
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- Smuggled-2: Wildlife Trafficking, Crime and Corruption in Australia. Kotabi, 1996. ISBN 0-9586769-0-9
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- "Pseudechis pailsei Hoser, 1998". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
- "Acanthophis wellsi (Hoser, 1998)". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
- Hoser, R.T. (2004). "A reclassification of the Pythoninae including the descriptions new genera, two new species and nine …". Crocodilian—Journal of the Victorian Association of Amateur Herpetologists 4: 21–39.
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- Name: (will appear on website) (2012-07-26). "Boffins big blue over little croc | News | NT News | Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia". ntnews.com.au. Retrieved 2013-10-10.
- "IUCN International - Conserving crocodiles – a risky business!". Portals.iucn.org. 2012-07-23. Retrieved 2013-10-10.
- Kaiser, H., B.I. Crother, C.M.R. Kelly, L. Luiselli, M. O'Shea, H. Ota, P. Passos, W. Schleip & W. Wüster (2013). "Best Practices: In the 21st Century, Taxonomic Decisions in Herpetology are Acceptable Only When Supported by a Body of Evidence and Published via Peer-Review.". Herpetological Review 44: 8-23.
- "Snake fans vent at vain wife name". Aap.newscentre.com.au. 2013-05-22. Retrieved 2013-10-10.
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- Marika Dobbin, Escaped python ends up in Burnley Tunnel, The Age, 9 April 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2008
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- Matt Meir (3 October 2011). "Only one 'snakeman' | Gatton News | Local News in Gatton". Gatton Star. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
- R. Hoser Surgical Removal of Venom Glands in Australian Elapid Snakes. The creation of venomoids.
- Jeff Miller Venomoids: An Overview The Southeastern Hot Herp Society 29 March 2001 Retrieved 11 Oct 2008.
- Mex Cooper 'De-venomised' snakes ruled dangerous The Age 15 October 2008
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- Russell, Mark (2013-05-21). "You die real quick: snake handler's appeal after daughter bitten | The Wimmera Mail-Times". Mailtimes.com.au. Retrieved 2013-10-10.
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- "Results for Manningham City Council Elections 2012". Victorian Electoral Commission.