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||A single individual has been reported and removed|
|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||What is believed to be a single individual has been repeatedly observed on reefs along the park's eastern 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||Agama agama||Common agama lizard||Rare|
|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: