Florida Cracking Down on Owners of Exotic Reptiles

by Courtney Blackann
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Florida is cracking down on the ownership of invasive reptiles in order to protect the region. Recently, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission added 16 additional high-risk, non-native reptiles to their prohibited list.

This means anything on the list cannot be kept as a pet, bred, or sold commercially in the region. There are some exceptions.

The new rules went into effect at the end of April. However, anyone who owned a reptile on the list prior to the vote will be able to keep their pet. This is as long as they maintain legal caging and their permits stay current. There is a 90 grace period to abide by these regulations.

The move was enacted in order to keep a balanced ecosystem. Some species kept as pets are released into Florida wetlands and then invade and damage the region’s natural terrain. For example, the Burmese python. This snake is quite a nuisance. The state hosts a tournament every year just to capture the large breed.

More Prohibited Reptiles

Other species on the list include the green iguana and tegus. However, there are some exceptions that go along with these species.

According to The Wildlife Society, ” Although imports of green iguanas (Iguana iguana) and tegus (genera Salvator and Tupinambis) will no longer be permitted, current owners of these species may continue to commercially breed them until June 30, 2024. After that date, selling these species in Florida will be banned completely.”

The new rules will not only promote responsible pet ownership. But it’ll also limit the number of non-native animals being released into the wild. This often happens when someone can no longer care for the animal.

“More than 500 non-native species have been reported in Florida, and 80% of these have been introduced through the pet trade,” according to a press release by the Fishing and Wildlife Conservation. 

Giant Burmese Python Captured in Everglades

One such instance of invasive animals wreaking havoc comes in the case of a giant Burmese python.

It was in the Florida Everglades that two hunters captured the massive 18-foot python. While it’s not the snake’s fault, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation often have to contract snake hunters to patrol the area. Pythons have no natural predators there, which makes them able to thrive. It also makes it easy for them to destroy the terrain.

“On Friday night, we pulled this BEAST of a snake out of waist-deep water in the middle of the night, deep in the Everglades. I have never seen a snake anywhere near this size and my hands were shaking as I approached her. Every python we catch can be potentially dangerous, but one this size? Lethal,” says hunter Kevin Pavlidis last October.

“One mistake and I am for sure going to the hospital. But more importantly, this is a once-in-a-lifetime snake. I could go out every single night for the rest of my life and never see one this big again.”

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