Did you know that exotic pets like macaws, lizards, monkeys, and hedgehogs are sold at auctions or stores or even on the internet? Some of these ‘pets’ often experience loneliness and malnutrition due to the overwhelming stress of confinement in an uncomfortable and unnatural environment. The exotic pet trade is an IAS pathway that is used to import and export non-native species into environments outside their range.
In the Caribbean, the invasive lionfish is a popular aquarium fish that was either intentionally or deliberately released via aquarium releases. Non-indigenous animals taken from their natural habitats endure grueling transport conditions. An example of this is that turtles have been taped so that they are trapped inside their shells and shoved by the dozen into tube socks. There is a mortality rate of 80-90% for exotic animals. Over 27,000 animals have been subjected to a lack of food, water, and basic care, poor ventilation, and crowded living conditions. More than 400 iguanas’ have been discovered through an investigation, having been left in shipping crates for about two weeks without water or food because of a cancelled order.
Exotic animals that finally reach their destinations can pose a threat to humans. 75% of all new infectious diseases originate from nonhuman animals. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, ‘’Most nontraditional pets pose a risk to the health of young children and their acquisition and ownership should be discouraged in households with young children.’’ Exotic birds like parrots can transfer deadly pathogens like salmonella, tuberculosis, and psittacosis to humans. The exotic pet trade is a primary cause of invasive alien species establishment. Protecting biodiversity and preventing the spread of invasive species via the exotic pet trade is a priority. Early detection and eradication campaigns like the Declare, Deposit, or Pay campaign are being implemented to present the spread of IAS through ports of entry.
Read more about this from our sources below!
PETA – Inside the Exotic Animal Trade
The National Humane Education Society – Exotic Pet Trade
The University of Texas at Austin Biodiversity Center – Pets as Invasive Species: Amphibians and Reptiles
USDA Forest Service – Invasive and Exotic Species
CaribbeanInvasives – Declare, Deposit or Pay Campaign