The best way to help prevent new introductions of
exotic species into Florida is to be a responsible pet owner. Many
pets are deceptively small at the time of purchase, and people may
not be prepared to care for them when they grow to their full adult
size. Often people move and feel that taking their pet with them is
too much of a hassle or they become bored with their pets. It may
seem kind to release a pet into the wild, thus setting it free, but
this can be detrimental to the animal and the environment.
Pet owners may not realize that a released pet will
more than likely die without care from its owner. But not all will
die, and those that survive have the potential to become invasive,
meaning they can take over habitats and displace native fish and
Instead of turning pets loose, try to find them a
new home. Search the Internet for clubs or rescue groups that
specialize in the same type of animal as your pet. Some pet shops
will allow you to return the animal; others may accept it as a
donation. Wildlife rehabilitators are another option, or you can
try donating the animal to a museum or nature center. Your local
humane society or animal shelter may also accept an unwanted
non-native pet. Check out the Pet Amnesty Day web page to find out
where and when the next event will be held. Unwanted exotic pets
are accepted at these events free of charge with no questions
Before you buy a non-native pet, take the time to
learn how large the animal will grow, how long it will live, and
how much care it will require. Ask the pet store for an
animal care sheet. Be prepared to make a long-term commitment
to your pet.
There are other ways you can help as well.
- Check boat trailers, boat hulls and propellers.
- Rinse and remove aquatic plants or invertebrate hitchhikers
such as snails.
- Don't dump aquarium contents in lakes, channels or other water
- Replace invasive and other non-native plants in your yard with
- Make sure produce bought and delivered through the mail is from
reputable companies that have their shipments inspected.
- Have houseplants brought into the state inspected for potential
pests, either by another state's agriculture department or at a
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services inspection
station. This is required by law and violations can be as
high as $5000.