The Lizard Lounge in Tarpon Springs is home for invasive species

Summer in Florida means cold-blooded residents are more active and out and about.

However, not every lizard and reptile is welcome in the Sunshine State; that doesn't mean people don't try to bring them here. A problem arises when a pet owner with one of these non-native reptiles gets tired of having that lizard or snake.

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That's when the Tarpon Springs Aquarium and Animal Sanctuary gets involved.

"The lizard lounge is a home for unwanted pet lizards, primarily invasive species," shared Paige Conger Henry, one of the owners. "Because they are invasive they are not allowed to be in just any enclosure."

The Conger family worked with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to create their structure for these abandoned or otherwise in need of housing reptiles.

"We made the biggest enclosure for invasive species," admitted Conger Henry. "All of them were pets that were surrendered or were confiscated. They needed another home for one reason or another."

Pythons, iguanas, tegu lizards and monitor lizards are all residents there in the sanctuary. All are on the FWC Invasive and Nonnative Species list.

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Most Floridians know the problems that pythons have created for the Everglades. The state hosts an annual hunt to help eliminate the invasive snakes.

The FWC lists the snakes and tegus, iguanas and monitor lizards as problematic to the state as they have few predators, and they thrive in Florida's climate.

The FWC lists some solutions and information on the nonnative species on their website.

Henry addressed their plan to help provide a home for surrendered or abandoned reptiles as a means of educating visitors to those dangers while still allowing a viewing platform for these exotic critters.

"I think that the more interaction that you can get between people and wildlife the better," she said. "People can get a close-up encounter without potentially adding to the invasive species problem."

The Tarpon Springs Aquarium and Animal Sanctuary is located at 1722 North Pinellas Avenue.

To learn more about them, click here.

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