First off, I would like to disclaim that I have not have any personal experience with Even Keel Exotics, except when I contacted them last year to ask about their foxes. I only asked very general questions - what age the kits are pulled, price, the law in Michigan, et cetera - and I received no reply. Not even a "call us for more information" like they are so fond of on their Facebook page. Before I learned all of the negative things about Even Keel Exotics, this minuscule experience already made me weary.
When I met one of my friends that bought her fox from Zachary Keeler, my negative views on Even Keel Exotics only strengthened. We were talking about the laws here in Michigan - about how foxes that are not red are legally recognized as domesticated animals, and how you only need a sales receipt and an interstate health certificate if you buy from a breeder out of state - when she told me that she did not receive any sort of paperwork for her fox. I was shocked. I received a sales receipt, USDA papers and a health certificate for Loki.
She then proceeded to tell me about when she picked up her fox. She apparently met Zachary Keeler in his driveway. He had been running errands or something of the sort, because he had pulled her fox out of the car to hand to her. She said that as soon as she handed Keeler the adoption money, he counted it and promptly retreated inside of his house. Keeler also told her that her fox was a marble fox, when she is most definitely a platinum/whitemark cross fox.
After learning about my friend's experience with Even Keel Exotics, I tried to do some digging. Zachary Keeler has a very bad, bad reputation in the sugar glider and hedgehog communities. I swiped this post off of an online sugar glider community:
Well I got in touch with the one person I know that has been there. Here is what I sent her, followed by her reply.Hey I know this is going to sound wierd, seeing as how I do not know you personally, but I know you went to Even Keel Exotics to get your sugar glider and wanted to ask you a few questions.
There's alot of stories about his animals dying within weeks of getting home, is your baby doing ok?
Did you tour the facility at all? Were they clean? Did the animals seems healthy?
There is a petition going around to get his USDA license revoked/or get him shut down and you are the only person that I know that has personal experience with the man, so was curioius as to what you thought of everything.
P.S. if you ever need help with your glider, or have questions please feel free to ask! I love talking gliders with people.Oh hey you! Josh's friend right? Ummm yeah I can see why something like that would be going on. Little Vesper is ok, she's healthy and all, but she's far from friendly. I've been taking every step recomended by every sight I could find and she's still overly agressive. This means she was NOT handled correctly by the owner, I'm fairy positive I was the fist human to handle her at all. From all the reviews I've read it's VERY rare for a sugar glider to bite at all. And if they do, they rarely ever break skin. The first day I went to activly try to bond with vesper, she bit me at least 10-15 times, making me bleed pretty much every time, I had scabs on my hands for weeks lol. She's doing a litte better every day but I'm pretty much trying to tame a wild animal who has had no human contact what so ever before hand, and that's not how she should have been raised at all by a profesional breeder. As for how clean he was, lol he wasn't. Josh and I had to wait for him to get ther for a while and even from the outside the place was filthy. Ther were gross fish tankes and cages piled up out side this tiney little house. We allmost left just from that sight alone. And when we went in the oder alone almost knocks you off your feet. The smell of tons of diffrent animals piss was the only thing you could regester lol. The foyer was filthy, there were flies everywhere, in Vesper's cage, and some little baby turtles, there were paper fly traps every where covered, it was absolutly DISCUSTING. You couldn't see beyond the foyer, ther was this plastic curtan, and we wern't allowed to go past but from the smell you could only immagen, you know? I would compleetly suport his licence being taken away, the world horder to breeder would sute that place more.
Source: http://www.sugarglider.com/glidergossip ... C_ID=43065
I also found a petition online that was trying to get Keeler's USDA license revoked. Directly from the petition:
Some of this would make your stomach turn. I bet he didn't know the USDA keeps copies of records for the public at http://acissearch.aphis.usda.gov/LPASea ... earch.jspx And all you have to do is search 'Even Keel Exotics' to find it. There's a report on there from Dec 28, 2010 that says in September, earlier that year, he picked up a truck of 206 sugar gliders from a dealer nine hours from where he was. He did this in the back of a rented U-Haul truck. He only checked on the animals once when he stopped to get gas. Half were dead by the time he got home and half died within a week. When the USDA agent was there to make the reports he found very unsanitary conditions, everybody in too-small cages, without proper veterinary care and more; including poor diets that kept the animals just sustained.
There are many reports from customers that say their animals barely live a week once they have been taken from his facility and even while walking through this facility not a single person has refrained from commenting on the crowded conditions, dirty floors and smells.
It is here that we can share our stories and it is here we can all combine our experiences to put a report together on Zachery Keeler that will end these poor animal sales and conditions.
And in the mean time, remember, that if you buy from him he is making profit and he will continue. He is a broker who just buys animals at wholesale, cheap prices and sells them for profit; he is not one of the many, professional and reputable breeders of these exotic species. Stop supporting him and Even Keel Exotics will die.
Source: http://www.change.org/petitions/even-ke ... -practices
If you look up Even Keel Exotics in the USDA database to see their inspection reports, you will find that in 2010, he received 7 violations, mainly for sugar gliders, including: not following a veterinarian approved diet for sugar gliders (2.40) not having regular veterinarian care for his animals (2.40) inadequate/inaccurate records of transactions for more than 246 animals (2.75) incorrect handling of animals resulting in 206 sugar glider deaths (2.131) space requirement violation for male sugar glider (1'x1'x1.5' enclosures) (3.128) poor sanitation (3.131) improper care in transit (3.140).
Even Keel Exotics is also listed as a breeder to avoid here: http://sgaa.forumotion.com/t242-breeder ... s-to-avoid
I've read from numerous places that Zachary Keeler does not keep his animals in appropriate cages or enclosures, and that they are not kept in sanitary conditions. He also brokers the majority of his animals. I would not be surprised if he brokered them all, as he only seems in it for the profit.
While most of this seems to revolve around sugar glider and hedgehogs, I would like to quote Alynn from a previous thread about Even Keel Exotics:
He claims that his marbles are a cross between his arctic foxes and red foxes, which means that he's probably getting his red foxes, arctic foxes and arctic marble red fox terminology all mixed up. He also says that in his experience arctic foxes smell a lot worse than red foxes and recommended I buy the red foxes instead of the arctics since I would be a first time fox owner.
He will not let me visit the parents, probably because that requires an exhibitor's license, so I can't verify that he will have arctic fox kits. He also says that he cannot provide a pedigree/proof that his foxes are captive bred.
He has them on Science Diet dog food, and provides the first round of shots to the foxes. He says that he does take them into the vet for a health check but doesn't provide a health certificate. He doesn't ship if you're interested if buying out of state.
He does get them started on litter training, and tells me I can keep an arctic in a large dog crate, which I've already heard. However, he's told me (and others) that the red foxes can be kept in the same manner, unless I heard wrong (which there is a chance that I did, so don't take my word for it).
His whole operation is just very shady in general. And while I may be misjudging Even Keel Exotics because I do not have any personal experience with them, I still would not recommend them for any type of animal.