Check out these pets you should never release in the wild! From goldfish to other wild animals, these exotic pets become an invasive species and get the wildlife into trouble!
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10. Green Iguanas
Iguanas are a popular pet for collectors of exotic animals because of how cute they look and supposedly they are easy to take care of. Unfortunately the idea that they are simple to look after was likely spread by those who sell them, because they actually need a strict environment and diet to survive. They can also be difficult to tame and handle, especially when they are fully grown, and this has led to a large number being released into the wild.
They are naturally from central and south America, and thrive in warm environments. This has meant that those released in similar climates, such as those found in parts of California, Florida and Hawaii, have thrived and begun to breed. This has been detrimental to the local ecosystems where they compete with native species for food, and will prey on species that haven’t adapted to deal with these kind of threats. As a result, Iguanas are illegal to own in Hawaii because of the potential devastation and havoc they can cause on the islands. In Florida, the populations of feral iguanas have caused extensive damage to vegetation and local wildlife, so if you do decide to get one please be a responsible owner and don’t release them into the wild!.
9. Cuban Tree Frog
These cute frogs are a favorite of exotic species collectors, but the Cuban Tree Frog is causing serious issues across Florida. They are quite difficult to identify among other frog species, something that is made even more difficult by the way that they can change color. They are originally native to Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Cayman Islands, and are thought to have been first introduced to Florida in the 1920’s. It’s the recent popularity of keeping them as pets, though, that has led to an explosion in their numbers in the wild as a result of collectors releasing them.
Cuban Tree Frogs are an aggressive species that feed on at least five different species of native Floridian frogs, as well lizards, small snakes and tadpoles. They are also able to survive in urban areas, and will take over birdhouses, ponds and birdbaths where they lay their eggs. They have been responsible for massive changes in the ecosystem, and have even been known to affect humans by causing power outages?? They are a danger to environments where they aren’t native, and so must not be released under any circumstances.
Rabbits are another incredibly popular pet for owners around the world, but when they are released into non-native environments they can cause serious damage. The best example of this is in Australia where they were released for hunting in 1859. Only 24 were set free, but by 1920 there were an estimated 10 billion across the country. There have been numerous attempts to curb the population growth, but with their speed of breeding, ability to feed on most vegetation, and overall resilience, rabbits still roam Australia in huge numbers and pose a threat to many of the natural species like the bilby and burrowing bettong by taking over their burrows.
They may seem harmless enough, and are a popular pet for adults and children alike around the world, but releasing your pet fish into the wild can have disastrous consequences for your local environment. Nowhere has this effect been seen more clearly than in Australia where the problem has gotten out of hand. Notorious for their strict rules on bio-containment, it’s why Johnny Depp and Amber Heard got in trouble for allegedly sneaking in their dogs. The Australians have good reason for being that way.
In 2016 researchers from the Murdoch University in Perth caught goldfish that weighed up to 2kg and were up to 30 centimeters long. These large animals are thought to have descended from a small variety that were being kept as pets and released into the wild a few years before. By feeding on more food and disrupting the ecosystems, these fish can spread and cause significant damage by off all the native species. Goldfish the size of dinner plates have also been found in Alberta, Canada, and have led to fines of $100,000 dollars to those that release non-native species into the wild.
Angler Raphael Biagini captured a legendary “giant goldfish” out of a lake in the south of France. Fellow fishermen had spent 6 years trying to capture this orange koi carp weighing 30lbs. The only way this fish ended up in the lake, was because someone was trying to get rid of it.