How did these non-native snakes show up in Florida? They were once pets that had perhaps become too much for their owners or for some other reason tossed out into the wilds of the Everglades. Perhaps the former owners thought they were showing the snakes a humane gesture by sending them into the wild. Apparently these people did not realize or maybe they did not care that they were creating an imbalance to the ecosystem. Now hundreds of these giant snakes are captured or killed each year.
Something's Fishy In The Ecosystem
The story I heard about the duck pond in Alcoa, Tennessee was that people would buy their children baby ducklings at Easter and when the ducks got bigger they'd be taken to the duck pond and dumped. What ever the true story may be, these birds have adapted well to their habitat and have not been a threat. However, other exotic birds have either escaped or been turned loose into urban environments. They too may have adapted, but there is concern as to the potential harm this situation could create.
We might think of ocelots, bobcats, and cougars when we think of wild cats in the United States. The bigger problem is the population of feral cats. These cats may have once been pets that were abandoned or they may have just been born into the wild. Sometimes un-neutered cats will spew out uncontrolled litters of kittens that are eventually turned loose. These cats may roam in packs. They can help control rodent populations. Disneyland in Anaheim, California keeps a population of feral cats that are released nightly to control rodents (ironic for a kingdom ruled by a mouse). But urban cat populations can also pose a nuisance and a health hazard.
The Responsibility of Pet Ownership
Many people take pet ownership rather lightly. They do it for their kids, or because they think it would be cool to have a ferret, or a monkey, or some other animal. Then when they discover the responsibility involved the novelty wears off. There are the issues involving feeding, animal waste, veterinary care, grooming, and many other issues to consider. Sometimes the easiest solution of pet disposal is to carry it off and dump it off at the side of a road somewhere-- bad idea!
If you no longer want a pet, see if you can find someone who you know and trust to take the animal. Do not just give it away to any stranger who claims they will give your pet a good home. You don't really know what kind of plans they have in store.
Contact a veterinarian or an organization like the ASPCA for advice. Realize that the animal may end up being euthanized, but at least an effort will be made to find the animal a home. Some pet shops may take your unwanted pet. If the animal is exotic, like the Burmese Python, offer to give it to a zoo--they may be able to find a place for it. If you feel that you must toss out a pet, then toss it out the right way.
The bottom line is to realize what you're getting into before you take a pet as your responsibility. Be aware of the costs and upkeep of the animal, the eventual size it will attain, what kind of personality the animal might be expected to have--in other words, be ready for whatever problems you might encounter and ask yourself truthfully if you want to deal with all of that. A pet is not your personal plaything or your child's toy, but it is a living creature.
What pets do you own? Have you ever had a pet run away or disappear, never to be seen again? Do feral ex-pets live around your home? Do they cause any problems? What is the strangest pet that you or someone you know has? What is your opinion of owning exotic pets?