Attack of the Alien Invaders, National Geographic Magazine: Cold-Blooded Reptile Pets

Live snakes in clear, square boxes with young woman sitting behind counter.

Containers separate snakes in a booth at National Reptile Expo in Daytona Beach, Florda, where they are displayed and sold to the public to buy as pets. A few of the exotic pets for purchase include species of pythons, boas and poisonous snakes, crocodiles, iguanas, and bird eating spiders.

The U.S. dominates both import and export in the booming reptile trade with more than 2.5 million reptiles brought in annually. New regulations were passed in Florida in June 2010 that ban some species from ownership including the Burmese/Indian python, reticulated python, green anaconda, Nile monitor lizard, and African rock python.

Problems have occurred when exotic pets become costly or too time consuming for owners. They are often “released into the wild,” resulting in 32 non-native species such as cane toads, feral colonies of green lizards, cobras and boa constrictors setting up housekeeping and making Florida their home.

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