Paige Filice and Jo Latimore
Michigan State University Extension
A live frog was recently found in a salad mix purchased at a Michigan grocery store. The customer returned the package, including the frog, to the store. According to reports, the frog was identified as a Pacific tree frog and it was eventually released by the store into the wild.
It is an unfortunate reality that sometimes animals can stow away on produce, houseplants, and other packages that are shipped all over the world. As in the case of this week’s salad frog, these animals often end up far from their native range and should not be released into the wild.
For the health of any stowaway creature, and for the safety of Michigan’s native wildlife, it is never okay to release a live animal into the wild. Many animals released into the wild may suffer when they are unable to find familiar food or shelter. They could also become invasive species, capable of surviving and even thriving, causing harm to our ecosystem, and outcompeting our beneficial native species for food and space. And while it may seem unlikely one salad frog becomes invasive, stowaway frogs can still transmit harmful diseases to our native wildlife and should never be released.
If this happens to you, don’t let it loose.
Michigan State University Extension’s Reduce Invasive Pet and Plant Escapes (RIPPLE) program offers these recommendations on what to do if you find a stowaway:
Never release aquatic plants or animals into the wild.
Handle them with caution.
Take clear photographs and submit them to the State of Michigan’s invasive species program (michigan.gov/invasives) for advice on identification and handling.
Once identified, you may be able to give or trade with a hobbyist, pet retailer, environmental learning center, or rescue group. Use the RIPPLE Fresh Water Protector network map to find a participating retailer nearest you.
Unwanted hitchhiking species are especially common in the aquarium and water garden trade. Inspect and rinse new plants to rid them of seeds, plant fragments, snails, and fish.
Contact a veterinarian or pet retailer for guidance on humane disposal of animals.
This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit https://extension.msu.edu. To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit https://extension.msu.edu/newsletters. To contact an expert in your area, visit https://extension.msu.edu/experts, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).
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