Ever wanted to own a boa constrictor? Or how about becoming some homeless prairie dog’s human mom or dad? If you’ve ever had interest in owning an exotic pet, you need to check out Florida’s Exotic Pet Amnesty Program.
What is it?
This program, run by Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee, is designed to make sure that exotic species not native to Florida are not introduced into our eco-system. However, it also seeks to treat these animals humanely and provide a great life for them when they either are lost or given up by their owners.
In the past, exotic pet owners may have simply released unwanted pets into the wild and hope for the best. However, as we’ve seen with the overabundance of Burmese Pythons in the Everglades, this doesn’t always end well for the pet, the surrounding community or even the indigenous animals.
Some of the species that have been put up for adoption in the past include parakeets, chinchillas, hedgehogs, iguanas, snakes, tortoises and prairie dogs.
How to rescue an exotic pet
You can either call the Fish and Wildlife Conservation program at 888-Ive-Got1 or contact them online through this link. To adopt, you must first be approved. The approval documentation and process information is online.
Because these pets are scarce and information regarding how best to care for these animals is not widely known, the approval process is to ensure that you know how to take care of the exotic pet that you wish to adopt. If you are interested in an exotic pet, it’s a good idea to do some research prior to submitting your request.
How to surrender an exotic pet
If you did happen to obtain a non-native exotic animal as a pet, but either cannot or do not want to continue to be the pet owner, don’t release it in the wild. Not only is it illegal, but it may die in the wild after being hand-raised.
You can surrender your exotic pet (this program accepts no dogs or cats) through the Pet Amnesty Days or by calling the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Program. They accept surrendered animals without questions. However, they do appreciate any pet supplies you can bring with your pet, such as food, pet carriers, toys, fish tanks and bedding.
Pet Amnesty Days
The FWC hosts Exotic Pet Amnesty Days multiple times per year. These days can be used to surrender a pet with no questions asked, adopt a pet if arrangements and approvals are made ahead of time or simply to learn more about these wonderful animals. In many cases, the exotic animals are on display, so you and your family can learn more about these interesting animals.
Schedule Pet Amnesty Days are as follows:
Saturday October 4th, 2014 10 am – 2 pm
Dreher Park Garden Club
4800 North Dreher Trail
West Palm Beach, Fl 33405
Saturday November 15th, 2014 10 am – 2 pm
Florida Panther Festival
North Collier Regional Park
15000 Livingston Road
Naples, Fl 34119
Saturday April 11th, 2015 10 am – 2 pm
Wickham Park Pavilion
3845 N Wickham Rd
Melbourne, Fl 32935