Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Non-native amphibian pet trade via internet in Poland.

Abstract

Overharvesting and trade in amphibian populations is one of the causes of their global decline. Online trade not only encourages the exploitation of an increasing number of rare and endangered amphibian species from all over the world but also influences the spread of invasive species. The aim of our research was to investigate the amphibian pet trade conducted in online stores and portals in Poland and determine its potential impact on native species. Between November 2013 and October 2014, we regularly (on a monthly basis) checked sale offers on the websites of the 18 biggest pet shops in the country specialised in exotic animals, on a nationwide auction portal and on three exotic pet fan portals. During the study, we reported 486 offers of 112 amphibian species in online stores and on portals. Most of the offers involved one of the four families of amphibians: poison dart frogs (Dendrobatidae), tree frogs (Hylidae), true toads (Bufonidae) and true salamanders (Salamandridae). Our data show increased interest in amphibians as pets in Poland. At least half of the offered species are possible hosts for the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. However, only one species, the American bullfrog Lithobates catesbeianus (Shaw, 1802), appears to be a potential invasive species. To summarise, the species offered in Poland that are characterised as threatened are predominantly those that are relatively easy to breed and that are popular as pets. Further studies are required to investigate the real threat to wild amphibian populations caused by the pet trade.