They become fashionable, they are acquired and, when the owners marry, abandon them or hand them over in reception centers that are overwhelmed. So it is with some exotic animals that have reached Spain and already pose a problem for local biodiversity or, even, for health. The Council of Ministers has approved on Friday a royal decree to expand the catalog of invasive alien species. And four of the new inclusions are pets that have become fashionable in recent years. There are three species of reptiles – the monitor of the savannah (Varanus exanthematicus), the royal python (Python regius), the tortoise of the peninsula (Pseudemys peninsularis), originally from Florida- and a popular mammal, the Vietnamese pig (Your scrofa domestica).
The inclusion of these species means that "the possession, transport, trade and trade of live specimens are prohibited in general." In addition, "a series of controls are established for their possession," the Ministry for the Ecological Transition has informed. This department has explained that the inclusion of species is done with the support of scientific advice and the risk to "many native species" of Spain. In addition, some of them, like the turtle of the peninsula, are transmitters of diseases such as salmonellosis.
From the publication of the royal decree, explains Ricardo Gómez, head of the Ministry's Wildlife Service, these animals can not be bought and sold. And those who have copies "should prevent them from reproducing."
Maybe, the most famous species of all is the Vietnamese pig. What happens with these exotic animals is that when their owners get tired "they get rid of them" and many "may end up liberated in nature both voluntarily and involuntarily," the ministry notes. "In the case of the Vietnamese pig, an opinion of the Scientific Committee of 2016 recommended including it in the catalog", details this department, "due to the sanitary and environmental risk that its present feral presence in the natural environment already supposes". "In the Balearic Islands, some time ago, they even had to carry out an eradication campaign," says Gómez. "They reproduce easily and hybridize," he adds.
The ministry also warns of the "risk of hybridization with the wild boar that, in addition to the consequences inherent to hybridization, could increase the problems of overpopulation of wild boars that already exists in many regions of Spain."
The three reptiles now included in the catalog (the savannah monitor, the royal python and the turtle of the peninsula) are included "also because they represent a health risk and for biodiversity". Gómez explains that one of the problems with these animals is that they compete with native species and can damage biodiversity.
What to do if you have a copy
The inclusion of a species in the catalog is done based on scientific opinions. And it is approved by the central government in collaboration with the autonomous communities. From the entry into force is prohibited its commercialization, but what should be done if you have one of these animals? The ministry details that the owners must inform the regional governments that they have one of these animals. The deadline for reporting will end on January 1, 2022. Gomez argues that there is so much time available to launch information campaigns for the population.
Then, each autonomous community will have to establish action measures to prevent them from reproducing. "The authorities will establish, where appropriate, requirements such as sterilization, marking, responsible statement not to release," details the ministry. "In any case, there is an obligation to inform if it escapes", in addition to the "prohibition of cession, trade and reproduction of the animal".