Wildlife advocates express concern over exotic - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Wildlife advocates express concern over exotic

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Many animal lovers adore their dogsor cats, but some want a more unusual pet. Wildlife advocates urge people to think twice before you purchase an exotic animal that could be dangerous or even illegal.

The concern here is businesses may have permits to sell exotic animals like snakes, or iguanas. It's illegal for people to own them without a permit.

Shabrika Strawder would never buy a snake, millions of Americans purchase exotic pets each year. They may be cute at first, then they grow up. This 14 foot Burmese Python at Pets and Pals in the Albany mall has been returned three times.

"They get too big then they get out of their cage and get loose," said Strawder.

In June, a python escaped from its cage in Tifton and caused a neighborhood scare. This time, the owners found it. But Chehaw Park Assistant Curator Ben Roberts worries about the potential dangers of exotic pets that owners may set free.

"That's my biggest concern," said Roberts. "What happens when they decide they don't want it anymore? Think about it before you buy it."

That's exactly what folks at Pets and Pals want people to do. The Columbian Red-Tail Boa just had 20 babies.

So far, no one has bought them. Employees say they tell people who are interested - it's no easy task. The store must register each foreign animal with the state before selling them.

"It's 100 percent the responsibility of the person purchasing the animal to make sure it's legal for them to have it."

Another big concern is whether anyone is actually watching over people who own exotic pets.

DNR officials say they simply don't have the manpower to make sure those owners have the proper permits.

To see a list of exotic animals that are illegal to hold as pets in Georgia, click here.