It is no surprise to see alligators and crocodiles in Florida, but a new species of human-eating crocodiles may be taking over Florida and invading the Sunshine State.
Science Daily reveals that Nile crocodiles are being found in Florida. Nile crocodiles can grow to a stunning 18-foot-long and can weigh as much as a smaller car.
Researchers from the University of Florida used DNA analysis to confirm Nile crocodiles in the Sunshine State. Nile crocodiles are known to eat anything from smaller hippos, to zebras, to even human-beings in Africa.
It has been confirmed that at least three juvenile Nile crocodiles are living in southern Florida, and there are likely more. Kenneth Krysko, herpetology collections manager at the Florida Museum of Natural History, verified that the species can live and thrive in Florida.
“The odds that the few of us who study Florida reptiles have found all of the Nile crocs out there is probably unlikely. We know that they can survive in the Florida wilderness for numerous years, we know that they grow quickly here and we know their behavior in their native range, and there is no reason to suggest that would change here in Florida.”
BBC announces that there are several hundred crocodile attacks in Africa. Just between 2010 and 2014, 123 humans were killed from crocodile attacks.
Florida has many species that are fair game to the Nile crocodile, including birds, native alligators and crocodiles, mammals and fish. The entire Gulf coast of Mexico and Florida’s Atlantic coast provide favorable conditions for Nile crocodiles with the subtropical climates.
How did Nile crocodiles end up in Florida? A large number of Nile crocodiles were imported from Madagascar and South Africa to supply Florida’s pet trade, and for display at zoo’s, such as Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
According to the study conducted by Krysko and the University of Florida, one juvenile crocodile was found to grow almost 28 percent quicker than the average wild Nile crocodile.
Florida has the largest number of invasive species in the United States, due to its subtropical climate, and it is now home to Cuban tree frogs and the Burmese python. Krysko hopes that this invasion will help to make everyone realize what a problem invasive species are to the sunshine state.
“My hope as a biologist is that the introduction of Nile crocodiles in Florida opens everyone’s eyes to the problem of invasive species that we have here in our state. Now here’s another one, but this time it isn’t just a tiny house gecko from Africa.”
A study that took place nearly a year ago discusses why crocodiles attack humans. According to the study, crocodiles do not discriminate between humans and other warm-blooded mammals, and they act on opportunity.
“If you go splashing through a muddy river near the croc and it’s hungry, it will come over and grab you.”
It isn’t necessarily searching for a human-being, but more likely just chasing opportunities. Crocodile attacks are often seasonal. They are likely to happen more often during breeding season, when it is raining, and during temperature increases.
Children are higher on the target list than adults because they are easier prey.
Simon Pooley provides some excellent advice to help avoid an attack by a crocodile. He advises to stay at least three-meters from the edge of any body of water. Just because you can’t see a crocodile doesn’t mean there isn’t one in there. In fact, crocodiles can stay underwater for nearly an hour.
Pooley also advises to make the least amount of noise crossing through water. Splashing around and making a lot of noise will attract a crocodile’s attention, thus making it likely to attack.
While Nile crocodiles do not have an established population throughout the state of Florida, a scientific risk assessment could be in the making to evaluate the spread of the invasive specie. Is it possible that human-eating crocodiles are taking over Florida?
[Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images]