By: Mary Campbell, Extension Director
Ever wonder what to do with that exotic pet that you no longer adore? If it is not native to this area it should not be released to compete with local wildlife. Animals that are not native to Florida have the potential to cause serious harm to our environment. Unfortunately, many well-meaning pet owners choose to release their pets into the wild when they tire of the animals or are no longer able to care for them. If at some point you are no longer able to care for your exotic pet, you have several options:
Find It a New Home - The best option for dealing with an unwanted pet is to find it a new home. Locate rescue groups, animal shelters, or herpetological societies (for reptiles)—they will usually try to help you place your pet in a new home.
Return It to the Pet Store - Because of the growing concern about the problems caused by pet releases, many pet stores may be willing to take back unwanted pets rather than risk having them set free.
Contact Animal Control - Animal control agencies are usually only equipped to take mammals, but some may be able to help or offer advice.
Contact Your State Wildlife Agency - Contacting them for advice is always better than breaking wildlife laws and risking fines by turning your pet loose outside.
Euthanize It - Euthanizing a pet is never an easy choice. However, if you cannot find anyone to take your pet, you may have to consider humane euthanasia by a qualified veterinarian. You should not release a pet into the wild under any circumstances.
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