After a while, crocodiles

CROCODYLUS NILOTICUS

Seth Victor                                                 

Just in case you were worried that a python outbreak wasn’t enough, there’s another top predator in southern Florida. This past fall there have been sightings of Nile crocodiles south of Miami. This presents a bit of a conundrum for wildlife supervisors. You see the Nile crocodile is on international threatened lists, and is disappearing in its native habitat. Because Florida, however, is not its native habitat, and because the state already has to manage with non-native snakes eliminating the mammal population, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has authorized a state shoot-to-kill order. Though there are native crocodiles in Florida, the Nile crocodile is known to be fiercer and more deadly, and is one of the few animals left on the planet that still hunts humans.

While Nile crocodiles haven’t reached the infestation levels of the python, they are potentially more problematic in smaller numbers. FWC officers suspect that the crocodiles may have originated from an illegal captive breeding facility, but it is still unknown exactly from where they are coming, or how many there are.

Again we are faced with the same unresolved questions on how to handle non-native species that can drastically alter a habitat. Do we preserve a threatened species, one of the greatest and most resilient in history, or do we hunt down the crocodiles before they make other animals endangered or extinct? Or do we simply pit the pythons and crocs against each other in a winner-take-all showdown on prime time? Either way, it’s hardly an enviable decision for the FWC.

Nonnative Snakes Populating South Florida

Josh Loring

Earlier this month it was reported that officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission encountered a 16-foot Burmese python in the Everglades (this issue has been previously raised in the Blawg here).  Officials felt compelled to kill the snake so to prevent the further re-producing of the species, as well as preventing it from travelling north to more populated areas.  Officials report that at the time the snake was caught and killed, it had recently consumed a 76 pound female deer.  Continue reading

Florida’s Python Predicament

Jonathan Vandina

burmese_pythonIt’s 4 PM. The hot Florida sun has warmed the thermo regulated American alligator (Alligator missipiensis) with the ability to satisfy its day long hunger. The tiny touch receptors on the mouth of the apex predator feel an unexpected yet familiar sensation. It’s a slight ripple, a change in water motion coming from the shore. In the mangroves a sub-adult raccoon is cautiously entering the water. The gator sees it. With only its eyes and nostrils protruding from the water it slowly makes its way over to the raccoon as quiet and inconspicuous as a branch caught in the current.  It’s within 8 feet now. The raccoon is playfully digging up shellfish oblivious to the imminent danger. Four feet now, then two then WHAM! An invasive 9 foot Southeast Asian Burmese python (Python bivittatus) strikes from an above hanging mangrove. The gator stops and watches as this alien predator constricts, suffocates, and swallows its long sought after meal. The weather has cooled down. The gators body temperature and energy levels are too low to attack another meal. It will not feed today. What now?

Continue reading

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