Nicaragua exports its exotic animals

Yesenia Talavera carefully places a small seed in a plastic container pierced with small holes. This is how the batraci travels from Nicaragua to the United States, where it becomes a pet. Tarantulas and boas will also be on the trip.

The small red-eyed frog will be sent to its recipient by Exotic Fauna, a specialized breeding of exotic animals, located in Ticuantepe, southeast of Managua.

These species from the Central American rainforest are very popular “by people who want to get out of the routine of having dogs and cats,” told AFP Yesenia Talavera, who runs the business with her husband Eduardo. Lacayo.

The pair have been breeding 18 species for fifteen years, which are marketed as pets in the United States, Canada and Asia.

Employees are preparing the latest order received from a company in Miami: 1,200 frogs – red-eyed (Agalychnis callidryas) and so-called glasses (Centrolenidae) – 140 basiliscus, 150 lizards, 400 black tarantulas, 400 zebra spiders and 350 spiders boa constrictors.

Most are placed on a damp sponge in packaged containers, others, such as boas, in canvas bags, which are then stored in boxes. No animals are stunned for the trip.

“These small animals can withstand trips of 24 hours and up to three days” without eating, explains Yesenia Talavera, while an inspector from the Ministry of the Environment supervises the process and validates the animals’ departure.

A truck will transport the cargo to Managua International Airport, where, after clearing customs, it will depart the following day on a commercial flight to Miami.

Exotic Fauna ensures compliance with the standards of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which guarantees that this trade does not endanger the survival of the species.

Before the frogs traveled to be adopted abroad, the frogs were fed chickens. In their new home, they can live “up to two years” if cared for well, says Harlintong Bonilla, a 27-year-old employee. The tarantulas, they, “live from five to ten years and feed on insects,” he specifies.

Digestion –

During the Covid-19 pandemic, toads sold well because they “entertained” incarcerated people, notes Eduardo Lacayo.

Spiders are not far behind. “My American customers love tarantulas, they treat them as if they were pets,” he adds in front of a zebra spider (Salticus scenicus) with a black-and-white-striped belly.

“They are poisonous, but they have the venom of a wasp. If (the person) is not allergic, there is no problem,” he assures.

Nicaragua’s Department of the Environment promotes breeding and rearing of exotic species through training and conferences to encourage local people to engage in this activity.

According to the Ministry of Family Affairs, around 39,496 households work in the sector.

But exports are the specialty of a handful of private farms. In 2019, according to official data, these exports represented $ 300,000. According to the newspaper El 19 Digital, close to electricity, they are now estimated at $ 700,000.

For the president of the National Zoo Foundation, Eduardo Sacasa, it is not a problem if the animals are “reproduced in their” natural habitat because it has no consequences for the conservation of the fauna.

However, the International Animal Welfare Association, Peta, estimates that these animals “do not enjoy any benefit” from this trade and “do not like living in captivity in a house”.

On the customer side, Asians love turtles, while the boa market faces competition from more colorful reptiles from Colombia.

Harlintong Bonilla cleans and feeds the boas with “worm-curved and vitamin-enriched” mice, even fed with fruit from the property.

But the boacon restrictors that are exported are not entitled to the feast that other animals feast on before boarding, the employees explain. Because they eat before departure, they may not be able to digest properly and vomit during the trip.

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