Tuesday, April 20

The risks of exotic pets

The fashion of the exotic pets can turn into disgust if not exercised responsible ownership, because there are specimens that require great care, gain a lot of size or behave differently when growing, which causes a growing problem: loose in the natural environment con the threat to native species and biodiversity.

There are many examples, but typical cases are usually Florida turtles, red carp, the Argentine parrot or even raccoons.

They are species originating from other latitudes, but that enter Spain artificially and manage to adapt, some turned into exotic pets.

Although possession and trafficking and trade with the species included in the Spanish Catalog of Invasive Exotic Species is prohibited, there is a turning point: on August 2, 2013, when the royal decree that regulates this list was published.

According to what the Ministry establishes, whoever had one of these animals as a pet before that date and wants to keep it You must register it with the competent Ministry of your region, put a chip on him and give him a passport, in addition to signing a responsible declaration.

And above all the premise is never release these specimens into the wild because the damages they generate are important: they displace native species, cause loss of biodiversity and also alter the landscape and ecosystems.

The Cantabria Ministry of the Environment explains to EFE that invasive species may be immune to some diseases that they do transmit to local fauna and that “annihilate” the autochthonous ones. It happens for example with the American crab and the river crab, but it is not a unique case.

In addition, these species reproduce easily, interbreed with the autochthonous ones and come to colonize the spaces.

But there are not only problems with the native fauna, they also generate great losses in crops and forest production, they can transmit parasites and diseases to humans and have high eradication costs.

To this are added the annoyances generated in urban environments, in the form of noises, bad smells or allergies, and that are often the trigger for the release.

“People buy pets without any control, they do not know what they are buying, they get bored of them and in the end the issue is a bit older, because when they bother at home they release them in parks or natural spaces”, highlight technicians of the Cantabria Department of the Environment.

In this region, for example, mapaches in the Asón river, although the most frequent in terms of invasive species in natural spaces are the red carp in the ponds or the florida turtles in aquatic areas or parks.

In Las Llamas de Santander, a large urban wetland recovered 15 years ago in the capital, it is difficult not to see these Florida turtles when taking a walk.

Nacho Fernández, a biologist at SEO / BirdLife who does bird censuses in this park, tells EFE that “there is a lot” and also domestic ducks that people have released.

“It seems strange but there are people who buy a duck to have it in a flat. They see it cute but they do not realize that it grows and smells bad. And what do we do with the duck later? Well, let’s release it to the park, and it’s a problem because it crosses with the mallard and they generate hybrids, “he says.

Another case is that of the Argentine parrot, which was introduced in Spain through legal trade in the eighties. The noise in the houses has caused their release and today they can be considered a pest and a danger to agriculture.

Environmental authorities are concerned about this issue. Not only the Ministry of Ecological Transition, but also the regional governments.

To try to stop the problem they drive awareness campaigns, they implement strategies, carry out periodic checks or trapping, and also in some cases carry out invasive pet censuses.

In addition, the message conveyed by the authorities and experts is clear: do not release your exotic pet into the natural environment, because these animals usually die of hunger or preyed upon by another and, if not, they harm the environment, competing with native species , transmitting diseases and causing loss of biodiversity.


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