Have an exotic non-Australian reptile as a pet?

There are only a few days to go until the Queensland exotic reptile amnesty officially closes on June 10.

The amnesty gives Queenslanders a chance to hand in their non-native reptile pets penalty free before new laws begin on 1 July 2016.

Under the new laws (Biosecurity Act 2014) there will be harsher penalties for those who keep non-native reptile pets, including jail time.

Dr John Robertson, General Manager of Invasive Plants and Animals with Biosecurity Queensland, said the new laws are there to protect our native wildlife and stop them from being wiped out.

"Non-native reptiles pose a serious threat to native wildlife as it only takes one pregnant snake or turtle to establish a population that could be impossible to eradicate," Dr Robertson said.

"We have already seen this happen in other countries. For example in Florida, in the United States, at least 50 species of non-native reptiles and amphibians have become established feral populations.

"Whereas in Queensland only four non-native reptile species (cane toad, Asian house gecko, flower pot snake, red-eared slider turtle) have become established. This can be directly attributed to the laws and restrictions we have in place around selling and keeping non-native reptiles," he said.

"In Guam a brown tree snake was introduced in the 1950s and as a result 9 out of 11 native bird species have been wiped out, which is a devastating result.

"Not only can non-native reptiles outcompete native wildlife, they carry diseases that, if introduced in Queensland, could potentially destroy native populations.

"I am urging people to make the right choice when considering the purchase of a pet, and asking those who are keeping non-native reptiles to use this opportunity to hand them in, penalty free," Dr Robertson said.

Biosecurity Queensland is working with the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) to rehome animals that are surrendered during the amnesty in zoos who can legally hold them.

For more information and to find out where you can surrender non-native reptiles during the amnesty visit, or call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Topics:  amnesty animals pets reptile

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