APPROVED:This black-headed python is native to Australia, and a recommended pet for reptile licence holders.
APPROVED:This black-headed python is native to Australia, and a recommended pet for reptile licence holders. Molly Glassey

Hand in illegal reptiles penalty-free

AN exotic non-native reptile amnesty launched last week, provides an opportunity for illegal reptile owners to surrender their animals penalty-free.

Minister for Agriculture Leanne Donaldson said the Queensland amnesty allowed people to hand in non-native turtles, lizards and snakes until June 10, no questions asked.

“There’s a change to the Biosecurity Act that will see increased penalties and possible jail time for those owning illegal reptiles,” the minister’s media advisor Tim Auguston said.

“There won’t be any questions, we won’t take names, and the only things Biosecurity will want to know is how the animal has been looked after.”

The amnesty is an attempt to protect native wildlife, said a spokesman from Biosecurity Queensland.

He said the prohibited pets seized or found since 2011 were American corn snakes (eight), boa constrictors (four), a Burmese python, a green iguana, a spotted pond turtle, a star tortoise, a chameleon, a Chinese striped neck turtle, a common marmoset, a South-East Asian box turtle, five ferrets, three red-eared slider turtles, an Indian house crow and one saw-scaled viper.

He said concerns over exotic species arose when a Chinese striped neck turtle was found during a fauna assessment in Toowoomba’s Waterbird Habitat.

“This was the first time a Chinese striped neck turtle has been found in the wild in Australia,” he said. said.

“Biosecurity Queensland and the Toowoomba Regional Council set up a monitoring program in the area to ascertain whether more Chinese striped neck turtles were present or breeding.

“Fortunately, no more were found, which indicates that the turtle was likely to have been a dumped pet that was unlawfully imported into Australia.”

Mr Auguston said the amnesty was aimed to fend off a foreign species invasion, similar to that of cane toads.

“Foreign reptiles can do untold damage to the environment, especially to birds, very similar to what cane toads did,” he said.

“For people in Warwick we ask that you call the customer service centre on 13 25 23 to hand in a reptile during the amnesty,” Mr Auguston said.



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