Report Unusual Sightings

Photo William Flaxington

Mediterranean House Gecko

Hemidactylus turcicus

Exotic species:  a species that has been introduced from another geographic region to an area outside its natural range.

Since our country was first colonized, several thousand foreign plant and animal species and hundreds of animal and plant diseases have established themselves in the U.S.  Fifteen percent of these interlopers have become invaders, causing widespread problems that can prove serious and exceedingly costly. They can devastate farms and forests, impede waterways, foul lakes and ponds, negatively affect human health, invade natural areas and replace native species.

With the dramatic increase in the importation, transport, breeding and sale of exotic reptiles and amphibians as pets and the increased importation of tropical plants and fruits (agents of transport), the possibility of exotic amphibians and reptiles escaping and becoming established in Tennessee has increased. Additionally, the deliberate (although illegal) release of captive animals into the wild poses a potential hazard to native ecosystems.

According to the book, The Exotic Amphibians and Reptiles of Florida, there are 40 exotic species of amphibians and reptiles that have established breeding populations in Florida; and about 20 others whose population status is uncertain. The Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern/Central North America includes various introduced species that have long established populations not only in the warmer climates of the southern U.S., but also in Ohio and Nebraska. It is only a matter of time before exotic amphibians and reptiles begin showing up in the wild in Tennessee, if they are not already here.

Don't Turn it Loose!

Please assist the Tennessee Herpetological Society in tracking exotic or introduced amphibians or reptiles by reporting sightings to froghavenfarm@hotmail.com

Please include the following information in your email:

  1. A digital photo of the animal in question; or a brief description including the type of animal and the time of day/night and the date when you saw the animal.

  2. Locality information in the form of GPS coordinates (if you know them) and county.

  3. A brief description of the habitat where the animal was seen ( a photo is helpful here too).

  4. Information about the site: privately owned or public property.

  5. Information on how to contact you.

If we determine from the information included in your email that the animal is an exotic or introduced species, we will have a biologist contact you for more information. Any native animals will be identified and an email sent to you detailing information on the species.

Thank you for your help!