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Florida Wildlife Officials Offer Exotic Pet Amnesty Program

Floridians with exotic animals can turn them in under the pet amnesty program. FLORIDA FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COMMISSION
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Floridians with exotic animals, both legal and illegal, are being offered pet "amnesty," to turn in animals for which they can no longer care.

By calling the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Exotic Species hotline at 888-Ive-Got-1 (888-483-4681), residents can be connected with organizations who can properly care for animals that have become too tough to take care of in their homes.

FWC spokeswoman Jamie Rager said many exotic pets have expensive and time-consuming needs that many people don’t think of when buying an animal.

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She says the ultimate goal is making sure people don’t release non-native wildlife into nature.

“Those spread diseases to our native wildlife, they take valuable resources from our native wildlife, and they just generally disrupt the very important ecosystems here in the state of Florida,” Rager said.

Exotic pets, like Burmese pythons, have become well-established in certain portions of the state and have few to no natural predators.

In addition to the hotline, FWC also hosts several pet amnesty events annually throughout the state. The next will be held later this year at the Naples zoo.

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Tom Urban/News Service of Florida