Invasive species are a problem in many regions of the world. Just ask the Australians what they think of the rabbit or the cane toad. However, according to a new study, the world record for introduced reptiles belongs to the state of Florida.
Invasive species are species that have been introduced into a new ecosystem, often inadvertently by human activity. For example, a deadly tree parasite known as the emerald ash borer spreads from region to region in firewood. Alternatively, some species are released on purpose when people grow tired of their exotic pets and dump them outside. This is the leading cause for Florida’s invasive reptile community. Thanks to irresponsible pet buyers, there are now more than three times as many non-native reptile species thriving in Florida as native ones.
There are no easy solutions to this problem. Pubic awareness may decrease the number of non-native species deliberately released into an area, but short of setting up decontamination zones, there’s little that can be done to curtail the accidental seeding of new areas with introduced species. Once there, these non-native species can create tremendous havoc on local ecosystems. Introduced species may have no natural enemies or may be quicker growing or more aggressive than their native counterparts.