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Florida Exotic Species - Iguana, Burmese Python

10.10.2006 - One of the more common sensationalist topics in the field of wildlife management is that of exotic species. Exotic means non-indigenous, or non-native species. In particular, people are interested in large and scary critters such as giant lizards and snakes. In my field of nuisance wildlife control, I come across exotics commonly.

The above photo shows two of the interesting exotics that I've dealt with over the years: the iguana, which is native to Central and South America, and the Burmese Python, which comes from southeast Asia. I caught these animals in suburban settings.

Because they are not native, they are most likely escaped or released pets. The latter scenario is more likely. It's not uncommon for people to purchase reptiles as pets, then grow tired of them over time, or realize that the responsibility of caring for a large animal is too great, and release it. The warm Orlando climate allows these animals to survive in the wild. It's possible that either of these animals, the Iguana or Burmese Python, have established breeding populations in the Orlando area, but I don't suspect this is the case. The python was skinny for its length, indicating that it was released and then had trouble finding food. If it were a healthy wild specimen, it would have been fatter. In addition, it probably would have been noticed sooner. As for the iguana, it looked healthy, though I suspect that it was also a released pet. I haven't seen many iguanas running around Orlando, nor juvenile iguanas, so I'm guessing that there's no established population of breeding iguanas. Still, the ones that are released are able to survive in the warm climate, and perhaps it's only a matter of time until they become a permanent part of the Orlando ecosystem.

My advice to pet owners is to not release reptiles (or any animal) into the wild! If you don't want your pet any more, contact the Orlando Herpetalogical Society, and they will take your reptile for you.

Do it yourself: Visit my How To Get Rid of Snakes page for tips and advice.
Do it yourself: Visit my How To Get Rid of Iguanas page for tips and advice.
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