State agriculture officials are hunting for four hissing mouse-size cockroaches that were set free by their owner and could breed and spread.
Chloe Riley, manager of the Critter Shop pet store, said a customer said he dumped the Madagascar hissing roaches in his backyard, fearing the state would jail him and confiscate the insects."He came in and said: `Man, I was scared. I let them loose. I was afraid they'd put me in jail,"' she said Wednesday. "He said he didn't want the (Florida) Department of Agriculture to hurt them."
Riley would not disclose the identity of the Tampa resident.
The Department of Agriculture last week ordered the Critter Shop to stop selling the roaches, fearing if they got free, they might multiply across the South like the flying Asian cockroach.
When the Asian cockroach was first discovered in 1985 spreading through central and south Florida, scientists found 250,000 Asian cockroaches per acre.