Florida’s invasive animals

Many people love keeping exotic pets (including myself) but not everyone necessarily should. With any pet, and especially exotics, it’s really important to know what you’re getting into first. You don’t want to get a chameleon and then be surprised that it eats insects.

Veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus)

The likely case that started the invasive pythons of the Florida everglades was that someone saw a cute baby Burmese python (Python bivittatus) and decided to add it to the family. But then it grew eight feet long and could no longer fit in the small enclosure. Nobody wanted to buy an 8 foot long snake, and the owner didn’t want to kill it. So he/she released it into the wild hoping it would live out a happy life. Then, it breeds with another Burmese python from a similar background, and it goes on and on as the problem gets bigger (quite literally).

Burmese python

Another likely way is that the animal escaped maybe thru a hurricane, and it went on to reproduce creating a real problem.

Burmese pythons aren’t the only big snakes invading the Everglades; there are also boa constrictors and reticulated pythons (Malayopython reticulatus).

Boa Constrictor

Why is it such a problem? Although the pythons aren’t much of a threat directly to humans, they eat the young alligators and raccoons that thrive in the Everglades. Now, there are almost no raccoons at all in the Everglades – they all ran into the cities to stay safe. And the alligators have changed their whole mating ritual to try and protect their babies from the giant snakes. The males will sometimes stay with the nest to keep it safe because one alligator can’t take care of all the babies alone with the snakes.

Burmese python

Although you should never let an exotic animal out in the wild, not all of them are as detrimental to the environment as the pythons. The veiled chameleon is also non native to the environment, but can fit into the ecosystem better because they are prey animals.

Here are just a few of the invasive animals that thrive but don’t belong in the Floridian environment.

  • Iguanas
  • Brown anoles
  • Tegus
  • Feral hogs
  • Cane toads
  • Lion fish
  • Giant African land snails
  • Boa constrictors
  • Cuban tree frogs

Another problem animal that is an issue all over the world are cats. Yes, even your fluffy friend can be quite a detriment in the wild! You can read more about them here.

What exotic animal fascinates you most?