Ever wanted to replace the traditional dog or cat, with a blue-tongued skink, or a green anaconda?
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is looking for qualified people willing to adopt exotic pets through its Exotic Pet Amnesty Program.
These pets need new homes because owners who can no longer care for them have surrendered them to the state. New owners will need to understand the costs associated with taking care of such an animal, as well as the natural history, care and safe caging requirements for the pets.
“It’s a great way to help prevent the release of non-natives, while providing these pets a home where they will be properly cared for and safely caged,” said Liz Barraco, coordinator of the amnesty program, in a release.
Without the amnesty program, many of these animals would be released into the wild. And because they are not part of the existing natural food chain, they could disrupt habitats, and even pose a danger to people.
The application process to adopt is done in two parts — the first will help someone become an approved adopter, while the second identifies that person’s experience and knowledge regarding a specific type of exotic pet.
“People considering taking one of these animals home need to think about the level of responsibility and long-term commitment involved,” Barraco said. “Many exotic pets live for a long time, and some get quite big.”
The amnesty days allow current exotic pet owners to bring in their animals without a fee or penalty. Those wanting to adopt don’t have to pay a fee, either, but they would need to be pre-qualified before attending one of three upcoming events around the state.
The first is Oct. 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Dreher Park Garden Club, 4800 Dreher Trail North, in West Palm Beach. The second is Nov. 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at North Collier Regional Park, 15000 Livingston Road, in Naples.
The third is April 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Wickham Park Pavilion, 3845 N. Wickham Road, in Melbourne.
Veterinarians examine each surrendered pet, and every attempt is made to place healthy animals with qualified adopters, officials said. Also, live animals will be on display at the events, which are open to the public, and experts will be available to talk to people about proper care of the pets.
Those who can’t attend an amnesty event, but would like to join the ongoing registry to become a potential new owner of an exotic pet, can visit MyFWC.com/Nonnatives to learn more about the program, and how to become an exotic pet owner.