Florida Exotic Pet Trade Under Fire

 A piece in the Sun Sentinel on the South Florida exotic pet biz this weekend (includes reference to Strictly Reptiles:  “From 2004 until April of this year, Strictly Reptiles imported 558,060 reptiles, 172,892 spiders and 161,597 amphibians, according to federal records.”)

Included with the story is this fascinating database which enables you to see who is shipping what from where to whom…  (My check of the DB suggests it’s far from comprehensive but it is still fascinating.)  And this map of major sources of supply

Wildlife trade brings tarantulas, pythons, cobras
Concerns expressed about threats to human health, native wildlife
By David Fleshler and Dana Williams, Sun Sentinel, November 30, 2010

They arrive from Amazon rainforests, central African savannahs and south Asian jungles, crated passengers in the cargo holds of airliners.

Spitting cobras, common death adders, Zanzibar dwarf geckos, green iguanas, chinchillas, emperor scorpions and hundreds of other non-native species enter the United States each year to serve the demand for unusual pets.

A lot of time has gone into the unsuccessful campaign to clear the Everglades of Burmese pythons, just one of the non-native species to find a congenial home in South Florida. But the federal government continues to allow wide-open imports of a vast range of wildlife, conducting few screenings for disease and permitting most shipments to enter without inspection. A report on wildlife imports by the General Accountability Office this month found “gaps that could allow the introduction of diseases into the United States.”

A Sun-Sentinel review of live wildlife import records from 2004 through April of 2010 found that the United States imported these animals:

More than 739,000 rodents, despite warnings from the Centers for Disease Control that rodents can transmit to humans diseases such as hantavirus, bartonella and typhus.

Nearly 20,000 venomous snakes, among which are some of the most deadly, including 632 puff adders, 113 black mambas and 357 king cobras.

More than 1.2 million green iguanas, as well as other species that have become established in the United States, including 39,673 Nile monitors and 20,806 Burmese pythons. Several of these non-native species kill native wildlife.  More…

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