Tropical Clawed Frogs could be threat to local freshwater ecosystems
LEE COUNTY, Fla. – Experts are worried Tropical Clawed Frogs could be a huge threat to local freshwater ecosystems.
Tropical Clawed Frogs are amphibians from West Africa, that have been spotted in the Tampa Bay area.
The specific species is a relative of the African Clawed Frog, which is a common sight in local aquarium pet shops.
At the pet shop Hooked on Fish Freshwater Aquatics in North Fort Myers, the owners said they’ll take back any fish that’s grown too big for its tank. It’s just one way they try to keep customers from turning their pets loose when they can’t take care of them, a practice that’s created a problem in Florida when it comes to tropical aquarium fish.
“If you cant house your fish anymore, instead of releasing it into the wild, bring it into us, we’ll take over and put it in one of our big tanks, as you can see we have big ones here and can put anything in them,” said Brandi Torres, owner of Hooked on Fish Freshwater Aquatics
That problem comes when fish or other animals get introduced to an ecosystem they might not be native to but perfectly adapted for.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission worries there might be a newcomer to local waterways after a breeding population of West African Tropical Clawed Frogs was found near Tampa.
“But there are some of these sites where the populations are incredibly dense,” said Colin Goodman, a Researcher at the University of Florida who identified them. “We are talking hundreds, of thousands of individuals.”
The frogs discovered are one of a few species of frogs that are commonplace in aquarium pet shops, like the African Clawed Frog, which are amphibians, but live their entire lives underwater.
“This is the first time that a non-native population of tropical clawed frogs has been documented,” said Dr. Andrew Durso from Florida Gulf Coast University. “All the other ones are African Clawed Frogs. They eat other amphibians, as well as fish and invertebrates, its even thought they can spread a deadly kind of fungus.”
Now if you spot one of these in your pond, FWC said they want to know about it but sending the tip to http://www.ivegot1.org.
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