Pet Amnesty Day is Florida’s response to the influx of exotic pets into its fragile wetlands and animal habitats. With so many exotic pets for sale on the Internet, it makes sense to counteract the damage these animals can do when left to their own devices.
What Are Exotic Pets?
Exotic pets are generally considered to be those animals that are not usually associated with the position of companion animal. This could refer to a pet skunk, pet possum or even a pet squirrel. From the vantage point of native species, an exotic pet is a companion animal that is not native to the area where it now lives. Prime examples of such exotic pets are ferrets, hedgehogs and monkeys.
Exotic Pets for Sale Present Problems
According to the United States Geological Survey(1), giant constrictor snakes have plagued southern Florida. Since these animals are not native to the area, the odds are good that they were exotic pets that someone released into the wild. Favorable conditions make it possible for the likes of boa constrictors and Burmese pythons to survive the wild, find others of their kind and then breed. Humans and native animals are unaware of the dangers that these animals present, and interactions may turn fatal.
Pet Amnesty Day
Recognizing the fact that the exotic pets trade is here to stay, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission(2) sponsors exotic pet amnesty days. Pet owners who no longer want – or are unable to care for – their exotic pet may surrender it to officials. There is no charge and no questions about the animal’s origins are asked.
Floridians who keep exotic pets in violation of local laws find this opportunity a welcome method for getting rid of an animal without abandoning or killing it. The Commission seeks to adopt out healthy exotic pets to would-be pet owners willing and also able to take on the unusual responsibility.
Stick Bug Amnesty Day
Thus far, this form of pet amnesty day appears to be isolated to Florida. While other states may not have the same problems with respect to snakes breeding in the wild, Seattle’s Pacific Science Center held a Vietnamese stick bug amnesty last year(3). These bugs initially served as class pets until it became known that they have the ability to spread rapidly and take over a habitat. The Science Center accepted these stick bucks from owners alerted to the problem.