Invasive Exotic Reptiles in Florida Toilets Moves State to Action
Florida appears to be overrun by strange exotic creatures some of whom could come right up out of the toilet. This reality makes people wonder if they should check the bowl before they sit down to do their daily business here in Florida.
Some of these exotic creatures and their eccentric owners are worried about the State of Florida’s pronouncements on invasive reptiles and non-native species of animals. Dead reptiles walking or popping up out of toilets and everywhere else in Florida. So the state is taking action.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has ruled that within the next few weeks the breeding and dealing of 16 of the most ecologically-damaging non-native species must end in the State of Floridat. The ban by the State of Florida’s executive agency is scheduled to apply to several species of python that have reproduced to crisis levels in the Everglades, a World Heritage site. The statewide ban on breeding and dealing bans also apply to all types of tegu lizards, anacondas, Nile monitor lizards and green iguanas. Here is the new state regulation: 68–5 : RULES RELATING TO NON-NATIVE SPECIES — Florida Administrative Rules, Law, Code, Register — FAC, FAR, eRulemaking (flrules.org)
When the Florida Fish and Wioldlife Commission (FWC) debated these rules changes in February of 2021, the state executive agency under the governor’s authority was inundated with responsive comments from all over the state and country. Numerous responses to the proposed bans came from exotic pet owners and breeders pleading for the ban not to go ahead with the ban on non-native exotic species. As the Washington Post reported, one woman burst into tears over the idea of losing her pet iguanas and pythons.
The science however in the case of tiolet monsters in Florida was just too much for the State of Florida to ignore. The spread of invasive species through sensitive ecosystems such as the Everglades is happening at such a dangerous clip that the State of Florida felt duty bound to act. The reptiles are also causing havoc in urban areas and endangering ecosystems rural and suburban.
More than 500 non-native species have been reported in the State of Florida. Eighty percent of these species have been introduced via the live animal trade with at least 139 established in Florida. This means these species are reproducing in the wild. Since most non-native fish and wildlife find their way into Florida’s habitats through escape or release from the live animal trade, it is vital to prevent high-risk nonnative wildlife from becoming introduced or further established in Florida’s environment through regulatory action.
Let’s take a closer look at Green iguanas for example. Green igaunas have multiplied in Florida to such an extent since first observed in Florida in 1960 that Green iguanas are now defined under state law as an environmental hazard. Green iguanas punch holes in seawalls. They pull up sidewalks and even transmit salmonella to other animals.
Green igauanas have historically been valuable as an exotic curiosity. The Green iguana is currently widely condemned as a pest. The iguanas can be observed in Florida sunning itself on decks, patios, and roofs. Green iguanas dig under houses. Shocked Florida residents have eben found Green iguanas slide into sewers to pop up in the toilet bowl. How’s that for an early morning wake-up call?
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission mission for conservation now encourages Floridians to humanely kill the Green iguanas. These lizards can grow up to five (5) feet long and and they can weigh nearly twenty (20) pounds. The state conservation commmission wants Florida residents to know hunting licenses are required. Apparently the reptiles can be exterminated as a nuisance.
So pet owners are not so aggrieved, the state has made a concession tweaking the new state regulations. Anyone who cannot contemplate the thought of being parted from their iguana or tegu can apply for a free permit. The State of Florida’s reprieve to exotic pet owners will last only for the life of the animal. Once the exotic or invasive species has died, it cannot be replaced by a new pet from the list of banned species. In the meantime, if you live in Florida, do yourself a favor and look down first or you may meet an invasive exotic species currently being banned by state law in Florida.