News Local

Pembroke's poison frog controversy

By Ryan Paulsen, The Daily Observer

RYAN PAULSEN

rpaulsen@thedailyobserver.ca

Pembroke bylaw enforcement is worried that people may be getting more than they bargained for if they buy the poison dart frogs that somebody is selling in the Pembroke area on the popular classifieds website, Kijiji.

The problem, said bylaw enforcement officer Michael Street, is that the frogs are quite toxic, not to mention in contravention of local bylaws, which list the animals as illegal to own as pets.

Officer Street said that his primary concern is for the health of local residents, particularly children who may come in contact with the amphibians and be seriously harmed by the toxins that they excrete through their skin, which can be deadly to humans.

Local exotic pet store owner Rick Lewis of Rick's Hobbies and Aquaria, who said he has sold similar pets in the past, but had no knowledge about the Kijiji post, says that while the frogs are undoubtedly deadly in their native habitat of Central and South America, as long as they're bred in captivity, away from the food sources that cause their bodies to create the toxin, they're completely harmless, and in fact make popular and beautiful pets.

The problem with that, according to Officer Street, is that, like anything purchased online from individuals, it's hard to know exactly what you're getting, and it's not worth the risk in case the frogs that are actually up for sale were caught in the wild or fed a diet that resulted in a similar chemical reaction as would happen in the wild.

Officer Street said that Pembroke bylaw enforcement is willing to collect and dispose of the animals if anyone did unwittingly purchase the frogs, and anyone with any information about the seller or the frogs themselves should call the city, with an assurance of confidentiality and that no court testimony will be required.

Ryan Paulsen is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist. Follow him on Twitter @PRyanPaulsen.



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