Nicaragua exports its exotic animals

(Ticuantepe) Yesenia Talavera delicately places a tiny frog in a plastic container pierced with small holes. This is how the batrachian will travel from Nicaragua to the United States where it will become a pet. Tarantulas and boas will also be on the trip.

Posted at 2:25 p.m.

Blanca Morel
France Media Agency

The little 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 manages the company with her husband Eduardo. Lacayo.

The couple has been raising 18 species for fifteen years which are marketed as pets in the United States, Canada and Asia.

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

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

“These little 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 departure of the animals.

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 jeopardize the survival of species.

Before leaving to be adopted abroad, the frogs were fed crickets. In their new home, they can live “up to two years” if they are well cared for, explains Harlintong Bonilla, a 27-year-old employee. Tarantulas “live five to ten years and feed on insects,” he says.

Digestion

During the COVID-19 pandemic, amphibians sold well because they “entertained” confined people, notes Eduardo Lacayo.

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

“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 Ministry of the Environment promotes the breeding and breeding of exotic species through training and conferences, to encourage locals to engage in this activity.

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

However, exports are the specialty of a handful of private farms. In 2019, according to official data, these exports amounted to US$300,000. According to the newspaper El 19 Digitalclose to power, they are now estimated at 700,000 dollars.

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

The international animal rights association, Peta, however, judges that these animals “do not derive any benefit” from this trade and “do not like to live 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 “wormed and vitamin-enriched” mice, which are themselves fed with fruit from the property.

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

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