We have discussed the damage caused by invasive species many times from Australia to Poland to Texas. Florida is hard hit as we recently described an invasion of swamp eels. Hard as it may be to believe Florida’s Burmese python woes may be eclipsed by other invaders.
Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) have been a frequent subject here, but the weary state may be on the verge of more invasion as 7 dangerous or deadly species may be about to gain an irreversible foothold.
This is according to the Fort Myers-News Press. The paper lists seven bad actors. Some may be on the verge of overshadowing the state’s Burmese Python woes:
Nile crocodile, saltwater crocodile, black caiman, reticulated python, green anaconda, black mambas and king cobras are the seven.
Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) live throughout much of Africa and some came to Florida through the illegal pet trade. They are up to 16 feet and aggressive. They kill hundreds of people annually worldwide. Alligators prefer saltier water and are far less aggressive. Niles can be found in rivers and estuaries and are very aggressive. The News-Press says four have been captured in the state and an established population may already exist.
Black caimans (Melanosuchus niger) is the largest member of the alligator family. it is less aggressive than the crocodiles but will attack people. It is not yet established in Florida but other invasive caimans are.
Reticulated pythons (Malayopython reticulatus) is the largest snake in the world at up to 23 feet. It has been reported from at least eight locations in Florida. It is one of the few snakes known to prey on humans. The future depends on pet owners who have proven irresponsible in the past. If enough escape or are released, the snakes will become established.
Green anacondas (Eunectes murinus) is a size rival for the other large snakes named here. It is a member of the boa family. A good handful have been captured in central Florida but authorities do not think it is established. It is big enough to eat people but does so rarely if at all.
A nightmare possibility is the black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepsis). This is one of the largest venomous snakes in the world and one of the most poisonous. Whether it becomes established is up to the greed and disregard of some of the most irresponsible people in the world. Florida widlife authorities recently busted people with almost 200 of the most venomous snakes on earth. The snakes were intended for illegal sale and distribution. These snake handlers often release or allow the escape of their charges. One of the types of snakes captured was the saw-scaled viper.
Last on the list is the king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah). At 19 feet it is the longest venomous snake in the world. It is not known to be present in Florida but has recently been discovered in smuggler’s caches elsewhere in the United States. Florida is a prime destination for snake smugglers. Since it primarily eats other snakes it might help cut down the population of pythons and other unwanted snakes. But at what cost?
For an idea of how bad the situation in the Uniteed States as a whole is, go to the National Invasive Species Information Center of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).