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Exotic Animals in Biscayne National Park
What are exotic species?
Exotic species are those species that exist outside of their natural range. Exotic species may also be called non-native, alien, introduced, and non-indigenous. Human actions are often responsible for the introduction of non-native species, such as through the intentional or unintentional release of pets or by intentionally releasing non-native species for pest control. While some non-native species remain in low numbers and are not considered particularly problematic, other species can proliferate in the new environment, become invasive, and have serious ecological consequences. In some cases, such as with the lionfish and Burmese python, exotic species can even pose as threats to human safety.
Exotic species fare well in their introduced environment because they can successfully compete against the native species and they often lack natural predators to keep their numbers in check. Because of its warm climate, South Florida is an inviting place for exotic species to become established, and many non-native species can be seen in Biscayne National Park. Whenever possible, park managers attempt to control the distribution and spread of these species.
How can I help?
The most important thing each of us can to protect our fragile South Florida ecosystems from exotic species is to act responsibly. Never release an exotic plant or animal into the wild, even if you think it is harmless. Many non-native species can be eradicated or controlled if their introduction is caught early enough, so report sightings of exotic species to proper authorities. If you would like to report a sighting of a new exotic species from Biscayne National Park, click here. Please provide as much information as possible (such as the date, specific location, number, size, and behavior of animals, etc). Photographs documenting your observation are encouraged.
Which exotic animals occur in Biscayne National Park?
The table below includes some of the exotic species known to occur within or nearby Biscayne National Park.
Additional sources of information on exotic species:
Did You Know?
In 2001, scientists taking a plant inventory in Biscayne National Park discovered a population of semaphore pricklypear cactus, one of the world's rarest plants. Previously known as only 9 plants in the lower Florida Keys, the new population numbered 570 plants...over 60 times the previous count.