The Problem with Exotic Pets in America
Abstract Many Americans love to have exotic pets, not thinking of the consequences of ownership.Right now there is a widespread problem in America: In places such as Florida, numerous types of exotic pets are becoming an invasive species as a result of being released back into the wild.The Problem with Exotic Pets in America.
Exotic pets have always been a concern to a variety of people: health care officials who treat bites from these animals, insurance companies who have to cover businesses that employ performers who have live exotic animals In their acts (such s ‘Siegfried and Ron and customs agents who Inspect cargo ships for Illegal animals Just to name a few.
The problem however, has taken a turn for the worse recently as a result of several things which have occurred not Just in the past year, but also In the past decade. Exotic animals are becoming a problem In the US and a hazard to people, pets, and livestock.
Some background Information will now be provided. Almost everyone above the age of 20 remembers what happened to Roy Horn of Siegfried and Roy when Monterey, the tiger Roy was working with, bit him on the neck and dragged him away. This brought Into focus the warning about -you can take the animal out of the wild, but you can’t take the wild out of the animal. ” As reported by Miguel Marquee (2003) to CNN, Roy horn was critically injured as a result of the attack and audience members Initially thought It was part of the act until they heard Rosy scream behind the curtain.
Some say this act alone brought an end to performers using live animals, not just exotic animals, in their acts. According to the National Invasive Species Center’s website (n. D. ). , one form of exotic pet that became an invasive species is the Northern Snaked. This species of fish, originally from mainland China, was brought to the US as an Import and was sold mostly in Asian fish markets as food but also in some pet shops as an exotic pet. When it was discovered in a lake in Maryland in 2002 and in other places such as the Potomac River, it was outlawed and labeled an invasive species.
This was mostly due to Its rapid reproduction rate and high level of aggressiveness. Because It had no known natural predators, It soon became the apex predator In the waters where It lived and devoured the local indigenous fish. Like the Asian Carp, Northern Skinheads continue to be a problem on the east coast, but unlike the Asian Carp, their numbers are decreasing through the efforts of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
For purposes to this essay, the impact the Burmese Python NAS and on southern Florida will be used to demonstrate the problem with exotic pets. On October 27, 2011, a 16 foot Burmese Python was captured by South Florida Water Management workers in the Everglades National Park. This snake was credited with being “one of the largest ever found in southern Florida” and after killing the Python with a hooting, a 76 pound adult deer was discovered inside (Douglas, B. 2011). Considering the size of the deer this particular snake was able to eat, one needs to ask the question of what could have happened if this snake had been captured in an inhabited rural area. Considering the size of the snake and its diet, it would no doubt seek out easy prey such as pets or even small children. Sadly, this is not the first time a large snake such as a Python was captured in the wilds of Florida and the problem is not exclusive to Just snakes.
Although snakes form the predominant indigenous return being caught, Florida is also plagued with the Nile Monitor Lizard and several aggressive species of iguanas such as the spiny-tailed iguana and the green iguana (National Biological Information Infrastructure, n. D. ). In an article written by Seal and Carmela (2009), Florida instituted a program called the ‘Python Patrol,’ in which members of the Park Ranger Service and several other agencies actively look for creatures such as Pythons and other invasive species.
The article describes some of the duties and responsibilities of the ‘Python Patrol’ and also discusses some of the problems they face and their concerns. An example of one of the things the ‘Python Patrol’ looks for in the Everglades are nests and states that the everglades are a perfect habitat for the Burmese Python. They also cite in one instance how the largest cache of eggs found was 83 eggs. Another problem they cite in the article is that in the everglades, the snakes are able to grow at an accelerated rate due to the abundance of food.
One thing to note about the Burmese Python is that it can reach up to 20 feet in length and weigh as much as 200 pounds when fully grown. This fact makes it an extremely dangerous predator. The one key thing that links all of the previously discussed information together is that these animals all started off as exotic pets. The problem is more prevalent in Florida then in other areas as most of these animals were released by their owners back into the wild rather than being given to a zoo or other appropriate agency for safekeeping and care.
In 1992, according to an article written by B. Coronet (2009), Hurricane Andrew destroyed several pet shops containing numerous snakes and other exotic pets. In the aftermath of the storm, many of these snakes escaped into the countryside and have been breeding for 19 ears (an interesting side note to this article is the picture on the website where the article is located showing a Burmese Python in a struggle with an American Alligator). However, for every snake caught how many more remain unaccounted for in the wild and how large have they grown?
When one considers that a Python is a stealthy ambush predator, trying to take a census of the Burmese Python population is practically impossible and rather silly: In the wild, the Python’s skin coloration and pattern make it virtually invisible to the naked eye. In closing, the capture and eradication of the Burmese Python may never truly be accomplished. As man expands and encroaches upon what little wilderness remains, there are bound to be encounters and clashes with wildlife. The Burmese Python is no exception: it NAS been captured on roads in Florida towns near marshes, under brush piles in backyards, and in several homes.
When one does appear in a Florida neighborhood, local authorities are notified and a specially trained crew is sent to retrieve the animal. This would appear as only a stop-gap measure at best: Currently, attempts to control the spread of the Python have met with somewhat positive results, but as previously stated, the more man encroaches on nature the more request these encounters will occur. The best we can hope for is that these encounters do not result in violence or the death off child.