A study from the University of Florida published earlier this month says Florida has the worst invasive reptile and amphibian species problem in the world.
The report, published by the journal Zootaxa, traces the introduction of 84 percent of these exotic species to the pet industry.
Overall, 137 exotic reptile and amphibian species are identified in the study.
“It’s not a surprise to me. We see them every week,” said Melinda Russek of the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium in Fort Myers.
“In about 2008 we started to take in in exotic species because of so many of them found,” Russek said.
“A lady found a Ball Python on her kitchen counter when she went to make coffee. Pythons are found in schools, backyards. We’ve had three African Spur-Thigh Tortoises which get to be over 100 pounds brought to us this year within six months,” she added.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Exotic Species Section Leader Scott Harden said prosecutions against those who release an exotic pet are “almost non-existent” and that his efforts instead focus on public education to combat the problem.
“I hope truly that we continue to make some inroads on people being aware that releasing an exotic species is illegal, it’s unethical and it’s generally inhumane,” said Harden.
The report identifies 56 exotic species with established populations in Florida including more than 40 kinds of lizards, several snake, frog and turtle species, and a type of crocodile called the Speckled Caiman.
Wednesday, 28 September 2011 06:28
Study: Florida Worst In World For Exotic Reptiles, AmphibiansWritten by John Davis