Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pets grow to be large invasive issue

By Victoria Rosado

Picture swimming in a pool on a blazing hot day and having a 20 pound aggressive iguana running across the lawn and diving into the pool like it was Michael Phelps.

This is what occurred to some friends of Dr. Steve Johnson, Assistant Professor of Wildfire Ecology.

“A tourist would probably try to catch it, but to other people it would be a nuisance,” said Johnson

This situation is not uncommon. Many pet owners are unaware of the future size and strength of these reptiles and have to face the realization that the cute little reptile they purchased from a pet store will grow into a large, invasive animal.

When they do eventually reach their full size, some owners choose to release them into the wild allowing these animals to cause serious harm to the environment and eventually, the economy.

The exotic pet craze is not the only way invasive animals are being released into the wild. Some amphibians, such as the Cuban Tree Frog, are hitchhiking their way to the states through cargo shipments. These frogs invade people’s homes through pipes and also invade power equipment.

“People aren’t happy when they go in the bathroom and find a frog in the toilet,” joked Johnson.

These frogs are notorious for cannibalism and impact the native ecosystems by eating native frogs and pose a threat to the biodiversity of the areas by causing native tree frog populations to decline

Though invasive animals are hard to get rid of, many things can be done to help take a step in the right direction.

Instead of releasing an animal into the wild returning it to the pet store or finding a new home for it could be a possible solution.

Not only does that helps the environment but saves the owner from breaking wildfire laws and receiving unwanted fines.

The total of invasive animals is currently at 50 but by educating the public about these animals the number could decrease drastically. Knowing what to do can help keep them safe as well as our environment.

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