Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Amnesty is a legalese-y term more likely to evoke issues surrounding human rights than having anything to do with pets. Nonetheless, a few times a year here in South Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission defies the word's traditional associations by holding an Exotic Pet Amnesty Day.
Instead of releasing exotic pets into the wild, as too many South Floridians have historically done, at these events their keepers can surrender any non-native animals to the Commission, thereby avoiding penalties for illegally releasing an animal into the wild and in some cases avoiding fines for failing to hold the proper licenses required to keep certain species.
These amnesty days usually happen in October and November, just in time to remind would-be holiday pet gift-givers that exotic pets don’t make great pets for most people. How can they if so many pet owners end up either releasing them into the wild or surrendering them to the state?
While they’re undeniably educational, the most important reason for holding amnesty events is to prevent the release of these animals into the wild — particularly into the Everglades.
Though it’s no stranger to threats — historically in the guise of development, farmland runoff (primarily the sugar industry’s), invasive canal-clogging vegetation, and a host of others brought on by climate change — the Everglades has been besieged over the past decade by a new sort of invader: exotic pets.
It may sound like one of those trivial weird news bits where pythons and alligators duke it out in the river of grass (and perhaps that’s how it started), but this is turning into an epic environmental story in which there are big losers and no winners. The native fauna of the Everglades is literally being eaten alive by non-native invaders, most of them released exotic pets.
In fact, as of 2004, the Everglades has earned the dubious distinction of being the one place in the U.S. that hosts the highest percentage of exotic species. A full 26 percent of all the animals, birds, reptiles and fish in the Everglades come from elsewhere.
Which is bad enough. What’s worse is that some of these invasive animal species have ramped up their activities over the past decade, snakes in particular.
While snakes make up a small percentage of this country’s pets, they’re an increasingly popular pet here in South Florida. The big guys (mostly pythons and boas) are doing so well in their suburban homes that their owners are hard-pressed to know what to do with them once they reach a certain size (10 feet is too much snake for most anyone I know). Worse yet, large constrictor snakes have been known to escape their confines and severely injure and even kill their owners and others, including children.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
When her joey got stuck on a fence,
a koala mama climbed up the fence so
her little one could grab hold of her fur.
Knowing the steps you should take to
help your dog or cat could mean the
difference between life and death.
Thanks to their low exercise needs and
laid-back personalities, these big breeds
can adapt well to apartment living.
If your cat doesn't snuggle up with you
while you sleep, it might be due to
instincts she inherited from her…
The sweet-faced Pomeranian may be small in stature, but she loves to exercise and go on outdoor adventures.
Parasites are no fun for dogs. Learn how
to protect your canine from heartworms,
hookworms, whipworms and more.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.