• Purple, yellow, gold and orange sponges and soft corals wave against a turquioise sea.

    Biscayne

    National Park Florida

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  • Boat Tours, Paddle-craft Rentals and Select Conveniences Temporarily Unavailable

    Glass-bottom, snorkel, diving and island boat tours, and rentals for canoes and other paddle-craft, are temporarily unavailable. The park is working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and regrets the inconvenience. Limited snack items are available.

Exotic Animals in Biscayne National Park

The green iguana is one of many exotic species that can be observed in Biscayne National Park

Green iguanas are frequently seen along mangrove shorelines.

NPS

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?

Type Scientific Name Common Name Frequency in the park
Amphibian Bufo marinus Giant toad, cane toad Abundant
Amphibian Eleutherodactylus planirostris planirostris Greenhouse frog Common
Amphibian Osteopilus septentrionalis Cuban tree frog Common
Bird Acridotheres tristis Common myna Occasional
Bird Cygnus olor Mute Swan Rare
Bird Sturnus vulgaris European starling Common
Fish Amphilophus citrinellum Midas Cichlid Observed in canals along park's western boundary
Fish Astronotus ocellatus Oscar Observed in canals along park's western boundary
Fish Chromileptes altivelis Panther grouper, humpback grouper Observed in canals along park's western boundary
Fish Cichla ocellaris peacock cichlid, butterfly peacock bass Observed in canals along park's western boundary
Fish Cichlasoma bimaculatum Black acara Observed in canals along park's western boundary
Fish Cichlasoma urophthalamus Mayan cichlid Observed in canals along park's western boundary
Fish Clarias batrachus walking catfish, clarias catfish Observed in canals along park's western boundary
Fish Ctenopharyngodon idella grass carp Observed in canals along park's western boundary
Fish Hemichromis letourneauxi Jewel Cichlid Observed in canals along park's western boundary
Fish Hemichromis letourneuxi African jewelfish Observed in canals along park's western boundary
Fish Leporinus fasciatus banded leporinus Observed in canals along park's western boundary
Fish Oreochromis aureus blue tilapia Observed in canals along park's western boundary
Fish Oreochromis mossambicus Mozambique tilapia Observed in canals along park's western boundary
Fish Parachromis managuensis Jaguar cichlid Observed in canals along park's western boundary
Fish Pterois volitans/miles Lionfish (red lionfish, striped lionfish) Common, and increasing in occurrence. Visit our lionfish page
Fish Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus Orinoco Sailfin Catfish Observed in canals along park's western boundary
Fish Tilapia mariae spotted tilapia Observed in canals along park's western boundary
Fish Zanclus cornutus Moorish idol Observed in canals along park's western boundary
Insect Cactoblastis cactorum Prickly pear moth, cactus moth Rare
Insect Solenopsis spp. Imported red fireant Common
Mammal Felis domesticus Feral cat Occasional
Mammal Rattus rattus Black rat Common
Mammal Sciurus aureogaster Mexican red-bellied squirrel Rare
Reptile Anolis sagrei Cuban brown anole Common to abundant
Reptile Basiliscus vittatus Brown basilisk lizard ('Jesus lizard') Common
Reptile Hemidactylus garnotti Indo-Pacific gecko Occasional to common
Reptile Hemidactylus mabouia Tropical house gecko Occasional to common
Reptile Hemidactylus turcicus Mediterranean gecko Occasional
Reptile Iguana iguana Green iguana Common
Reptile Python molurus bivittatus Burmese python Rare; Visit the Everglades python page
Reptile Ramphotyphlops braminus Brahminy blindsnake Occasional
Reptile Tupinambis merianae Black and white tegu lizard Observed near park's mainland boundary
Reptile Varanus spp Monitor lizard Observed near park's mainland boundary

Additional sources of information on exotic species:

Biscayne National Park Exotic Plants page

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Nonnative Species

USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database

Everglades Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area

Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council

USDA National Invasive Species Information Center

Did You Know?

Wreck of the <i>Mandalay</i>

Biscayne National Park's Maritime Heritage Trail is the only underwater archaeological trail in the National Park System. The "Shipwreck Trail" includes six wrecks spanning a century of maritime history. More...