Welcome to Audubon’s Invader Updater, our new monthly update on invasive animal news, sightings, and information. For several years our Invasive Species Task Force has focused on addressing the growing problem invasive animals pose to our natural ecosystems through a combination of policy, land management, research and education/outreach, and by partnering with regional invasive species management cooperatives. New invasive animals are literally showing up every day here in Florida, and it is up to us to help detect and report them before populations establish or grow out of control.
Many of the invasive animals spreading throughout our state pose significant threats to native wildlife and habitats. As a network of citizens across the state with keen eyes and an appreciation of our most precious ecosystems, Audubon members and friends are perfectly-suited to assist our efforts as our “eyes and ears” on the ground. Visit our new webpage to learn how easy it is to report non-native animals that you see while out birding, visiting your favorite park or even along highways or in your own community. Reporting only takes minutes online or using a simple smartphone app and can make a big difference to land managers who are trying to get a handle on these growing populations.
Upcoming Event: Have a friend, colleague or neighbor with an unwanted exotic pet? FFWCC is holding an Exotic Pet Amnesty Day in Broward County on October 20. This is a no-questions-asked opportunity to surrender unwanted exotic pets (iguanas, ferrets, snakes, you name it!) who will be adopted out to new, caring homes. The release of unwanted pets is the primary way exotic animals spread through our state—help spread the “Don’t Let It Loose” message!!
Species Spotlight: Black and White Tegu
Popular pets of reptile enthusiasts, Tegus have become established in parts of Hillsborough and Miami-Dade counties in recent years and are a growing problem. Reaching 4-5 feet long, they are likely to eat the eggs of young ground-nesting birds and turtles and could impact threatened and endangered species, including gopher tortoises, as they invade burrows. They live 15-20 years and females lay ~5 eggs/clutch, up to twice per year. Tegu sightings should be reported immediately to www.ivegot1.org (provide photos if possible) or through 1-888-IveGot1 (live animals only).
Notable Invasive Animal Reports This Month (by County):
- Ball Python: Everglades Taylor WMA (Broward)
- Black-and-white Tegu: Florida City (Miami-Dade), Green Meadow (Broward) & Riverview (Hillsborough)
- Black Spiny-Tailed Iguana: Opa-Locka (Miami-Dade) & Port Charlotte (Charlotte)
- Burmese Python: Shark Valley, Homestead (Miami-Dade) & Big Cypress National Preserve (Monroe)
- Gold Tegu: Florida City (Miami-Dade)
- Green Iguana: Hollywood, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park (Broward)
- Island Applesnail: Myakka River State Park (Sarasota)
- Knight Anole: Key Largo (Monroe)
- Northern Curly-Tailed Lizard: Hialeah (Miami-Dade)
- Savannah Monitor: Ft. Clinch State Park (Nassau)
- South American Ground Lizard: Naples (Collier)
- Tokay Gecko: Key Largo (Monroe)
Have specific questions about invasive animals, how to report a sighting or how you can help in your area? Feel free to contact Audubon’s Dr. Shawn Liston (firstname.lastname@example.org).