Thursday, May 19, 2016

Florida now has a Nile crocodile problem

Posted By on Thu, May 19, 2016 at 4:47 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO VIA WIKIPEDIA
  • Photo via Wikipedia
Joining an already robust list of invasive species, Florida researchers have now confirmed that three Nile crocodiles were indeed captured near Miami, and more are probably out there. 

According to the Washington Times, University of Florida researchers recently published a report showing DNA testing from three crocs captured back in 2009, 2011 and 2014 does, in fact, match DNA from Nile crocodiles. 

“They didn’t swim from Africa,” University of Florida herpetologist Kenneth Krysko said to the Times. “But we really don’t know how they got into the wild.”

From the Times
Krysko, who works at UF’s Florida Museum of Natural History, said the captured crocodiles matched genetically, meaning they are related to one another, but didn’t match Nile crocs kept at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and other licensed Florida attractions. That means the crocs probably were brought to Florida illegally by an unlicensed reptile collector who either didn’t contain them properly, allowing them to escape, or, more sinisterly, planted them in the Everglades in hopes they would multiply.

The Nile croc, if it became established in the Everglades, would pose another invasive threat to its teetering ecosystem. Through crossbreeding, they could endanger the smaller, less aggressive American crocodiles, which have never been responsible for a confirmed human death in the U.S. About 1,000 American crocodiles live in South Florida, mostly in mangroves and estuaries. Any hybrids would degrade the genetic integrity of the endangered American variety.

Nile crocodiles can grow upwards of 16 feet long, can weigh more than 1,600 pounds, and are believed to be responsible for up to 200 fatalities annually in sub-Saharan Africa. 

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