Three different Nile crocodiles were found in southern Florida, and now people are wondering how they got there. It was recently confirmed that three different captured between 2009 and 2014 crocodiles were in fact the type usually found 6,000 miles away.
Nile crocodiles are native to sub-Saharan Africa and have a reputation for being extremely dangerous. They can grow up to 20-feet long and kill an average of 200 people a year. Florida just happens to be conducive to their environmental needs.
The herpetologist who fronted the DNA testing, Kenneth Krysko, reported his findings in the Journal of Herpetological Conservation and Biology. In his study, he expresses the very uncomfortable notion that, “The odds that the few of us who study Florida reptiles have found all of the Nile crocs out there is probably unlikely.”
Krysko also said that tests confirmed that the crocs were all related to one another. However, they did also say that they tested the crocs housed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and they were not related to the captured ones. Their presence is almost certainly due to an unlicensed exotic animal dealer or their clients releasing them. Unfortunately, that isn’t uncommon in the state, as burmese pythons and feral pigs are also growing steadily in numbers in Florida because of this problem.
Krysko is hoping that their DNA confirmation brings light to the issue. “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,” he says. “Now here’s another one, but this time it isn’t just a tiny house gecko from Africa.”