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A variety of non-native snakes, lizards, turtles, frogs and others are invading the Sunshine State, according to research from the University of Florida. Researchers have documented nearly 140 introduced species of amphibians and reptiles between 1863 and 2010. These invasive species can potentially have a negative impact on our environment by competing with our native species and even eating them as well.
Kenneth Krysko/UF herpetology researcher: “We have a lot of small little native tree frogs but when the introduced Cuban Tree Frog came in, and that species is much larger by the way, it seems that where the Cuban Tree Frog is now found, the smaller native tree frogs no longer exist or they have declined considerably.
When these exotic animals escape or are illegally released, they may cling on to travelling luggage or moving cars and end up in Florida, where they have a very good chance of surviving in our warm climate. These unfamiliar species cannot only have unfavorable effects on the environment but on the economy and human health as well. The Cuban Tree Frog can be a danger for those who do not recognize them.
Kenneth Krysko/UF herpetology researcher: “One of the things us residents have to be cautious about is that if we pick them up they are quite toxic and that means that they have a saliva on them and if we touch any part of our membranes ourselves, it actually can cause really serious rashes and burning. So you have to be really, really careful; just wash your hands really well.”
Florida does have a law that prevents people from illegally releasing introduced species in the state, but so far, researchers say no one has been prosecuted.