8 of Florida’s Most Invasive Species

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Florida’s most invasive species. These creatures were found in different parts of Florida & were observed in the nature.

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Number 8 Nile Crocodile
In the past, several Nile Crocodiles were found in the state’s south but weren’t considered evidence of an invasive process. They’re massive crocodilians with heavily skin which are second in size only to saltwater crocodiles. There have been reports of some over 16.5 feet in length and 1,650 pounds in weight. Their fearsome reputation dwarfs that of the American alligator, which would arguably be inferior to Nile crocodiles should the two ever compete for food.
Number 7 New Guinea Flatworm
Much like their name implies, this flatworm species is native to the island of New Guinea. They’ve been observed preying on earthworms, land snails, slugs and other invertebrates. In Florida, New Guinea flatworms were first observed in Miami-Dade County, in 2012. Since then, reports have been coming in from over 40 counties. As an invasive species, the New Guinea flatworm has reduced the Hawaiian tree snail population in Oahu and is a known land snail predator in Japan.
Number 6 Argentine Black and White Tegu
The Argentine Black and White Tegu is a large lizard, native to South America. Found in Brazil, northern Argentina, Paraguay and eastern Uruguay. Reproducing tegu populations are established in Florida, mainly in Miami-Dade and Hillsborough Counties, but reported sightings have been coming in from other counties as well. Like other animals on our list, their introduction in the wild was a consequence of the ever-booming pet trade which takes place in the state. Tegus can reach almost 4ft in total length and weigh close to 10 pounds. On average, females lay about 36 eggs each year. Once hatched, they grow rapidly and can live up to 20 years.
Number 5 Giant Toad
The giant toad, also known as the cane toad, can grow to be 6 to 9 inches in length. First introduced to Florida in the 1930s and 1940s as a means of controlling agricultural pests. They breed year-round in standing water, canals, ditches and streams. Currently, breeding populations are found in central and south Florida.
Number 4 Nile Monitor
Nile monitors are among the largest lizards in Africa, reaching over 7ft and weights in excess of 33 pounds. Monitor lizards have strong legs, muscular bodies and powerful jaws. Their sharp claws are used for digging, climbing or tearing at their prey. They’re an invasive species in Florida, with the most concentrated population located in Cape Coral, in Lee County. They tend to inhabit water edges and their spread is facilitated by South Florida’s extensive canal system. Monitor lizards negatively impact the areas they inhabit, due to a combination of factors. They have a generalist diet, a high reproduction rate and travel both in fresh and saltwater. In Africa, they’re known to raid crocodile nests, eat eggs and prey on small crocodiles. This can affect Florida’s indigenous crocodiles, such as the American alligator and the American crocodile. Since their diet is so broad, it means that federally protected species, such as sea turtles, gopher tortoises or wading birds, are also in danger.
Number 3 Lionfish
The first reports of invasive lionfish came in 1985, off Florida’s Atlantic Coast, near Dania Beach. The exact circumstances of their introduction aren’t clear but it’s suspected that they were discarded from aquariums. As of 2010, they began turning up in areas were no lionfish had previously been recorded, such as the northern Gulf of New Mexico. As a predatory reef fish, this creature can reduce important native fish populations, such as herbivorous species that keep the algae levels in check. Lionfish, which are usually 12 to 15 inches in length, tend to be larger in areas where they aren’t indigenous, exceeding 18 inches.
Number 2 Gambian Pouched Rat
With lengths of up to 3 feet from head to tail, the Gambian pouched rat is one of the largest rat species in the world and it enjoys a wide distribution in Sub-Saharan Africa. The species’ common name was inspired by its habit of storing food in its cheek pouches. In Florida, the rats were introduced through the pet trade. As an invasive species the Gambian pouched rat is of high concern. Females can produce litters up to five times over the course of nine months and each litter features an average of four young.
Number 1 Hybrid Snakes
Burmese pythons are giant constrictor snakes that can reach over 15 feet in length. Because of their size, they face few predators, with the exceptions of humans and alligators. Over the course of a decade, starting from 2001, scientists have examined the tissue from 400 invasive Burmese pythons, captured in Florida’s Everglades.

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