Last week the “Python Challenge” wrapped-up without making much of a dent in the population of snakes in the Everglades. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) hasn’t said if they’ll hold the event again next year. But unless the agency changes its hands-off approach to the exotic pet trade, there may be a “Tegu Challenge” or “Tarantula Challenge” in Florida’s future.
While Florida struggles with already established populations of reptiles such as pythons and iguanas, pet stores and breeders continue to carelessly sell exotic snakes, lizards and spiders to anyone who wants to buy them. Because of Florida’s subtropical climate, animals like the tegu, a lizard native to South America but popular in the pet trade, are able to thrive in the wilds of Florida after escaping from captivity or being dumped by irresponsible pet owners.
It is clear that the pet trade is at the root of the problem, and any real solution must target the source. It is time to ban the breeding and sale of exotic animals as pets in Florida. The FWC might argue that they could not have foreseen the Burmese python problem, but there is no excuse not to act to prevent future problems.
You Can Help
Please contact Florida’s state wildlife agency and urge them to ban the breeding, sale and private possession of exotic animals– to protect animals and the environment.