DNA tests have confirmed that three crocodiles found in Florida over the past 5 years are “man-eating” Nile crocodiles that are actually native to Africa. And there are almost certainly more out there.
A manager at the Florida Museum of Natural History stated, “The odds that the few of us who study Florida reptiles have found all of the Nile crocs out there is probably unlikely.”
Nile crocodiles are the second largest living reptile in the world, some growing up to 20 feet in length. They are more aggressive than their relatively shy American cousins, causing significantly more human mortalities annually.
This species lives halfway across the planet, so how did it end up in the swamps of Florida?
Crocodiles have been imported to the U.S. for amusement parks and for the pet trade.
It is likely that some have either escaped or have been released by owners that have realized that they don’t actually want an 18-foot apex predator for a pet. (Hindsight is 20-20.)
This isn’t the first deadly invasive species to haunt Florida: Wildlife biologists are still battling an epidemic of Burmese pythons that either escaped a breeding facility or were kept as pets and released.
An estimated 30,000 pythons now thrive in the Everglades, consuming and decimating native species to sustain themselves.
What species will we find next?
Other animals are invading Florida… Such as the Burmese python. Learn more in the video below: