Pet trade unleashes exotic predators throughout Florida

Introduced Nile monitors are among the introduced reptiles threatening native bird life throughout Florida. ©Bernard DUPONT

An array of exotic reptiles introduced to the wilds of Florida is posing a growing threat to the state’s bird life, according to a recent article on Audubon.org. It’s not just pet pythons set loose in the Everglades. “Farther north,” Audubon writes, “Nile monitors — the largest lizard in Africa— have been terrorizing a population of burrowing owls in the city of Cape Coral. And on the outskirts of Florida City, just outside Everglades National Park, egg-eating Argentine tegus could soon raid the nesting grounds of one of the last remaining populations of the endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrow.” The common denominator is the pet trade, Audubon reports, “but while most people acknowledge that’s a leaky pipeline, few agree on whether and how to plug it.”

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