Hello and welcome back to the Wonderful World of Mikey! (Formerly Mikey-vision, but budget cuts forced me to adopt a used and cheaper name to copyright infringe upon) 🙂 This is the second installment of a post (click here for the first part) I had started where we talked about various exotic pets and the very bad practice of letting them go when they were no longer wanted or able to be cared for. We had talked about the many issues with this, including the fact that if the animal(s) did not perish from their inability to survive in the wild, then they might do just the opposite and flourish. The flourishing, while good for the individuals released, is usually a bad thing for the native species and environment around them. Because it’s then that these animals are given a negative branding. They are now considered “Invasive Species” (ominous music here…)
Invasive species in general terms are an exotic species, either to the immediate region or the wider area as a whole (country, state, etc.) which has been introduced (possibly inadvertently or on purpose) and taken to the new environment well. Their new home might be something like where the species had evolved originally to survive, or it may have been modified (usually by humans) to be even more conducive to their survival. If enough individuals are in an area, breeding will occur and the population may take hold in a new region. They will quite possibly push the native species out by out competing for food, shelter sites, or even predation. And in some rare species they will present a possible danger to humans.
Invasive species can come into a new habitat through a variety of ways, but for the interest of this article I’m going to concentrate on the abandoned and released pet method. I’m doubting any of you will be piloting a super tanker up a river and dropping ballast water full of non-native marine life, or importing things from other countries for intentional release. So for now, we’re going to stick to pets that probably shouldn’t have been bought in the first place. And there are so many that have begun to colonize the wild due to releases. Many of them are in the Southeast region due to the near tropical conditions and abundant habitats.
Here’s a short list:
African Rock Pythons
Central & South American Cichlid fish (Oscars, Tilapia, etc)
Various Gecko Species
African Clawed Frog
Okay my enlightened pals, that’s enough for now – We’ll get into a few species specifics on a few of the more commonly released critters that have taken hold in the next posting. Try and keep your chin up and not miss me too much – I’ll be back soon with all kinds of more fun stuff! See you in Part 3! 🙂