Living in Florida has many benefits. The warm climate attracts many people to our beautiful state. But the same climate which makes it so nice for us also makes it a perfect habitat for most of the world’s critters & creatures as well. This means that most any animal or insect can flourish here if it is able to take hold. The python problem is South Florida is a prime example of this.
In fact, Florida has the most invasive species of any state in the Union. Not only that but Florida ranks in the top five locations in the entire world in regards to invasive species. This is a top five list we are not happy to be on. When you think of many of the animals to which you have become accustomed you should probably know that there is a good chance it is an invasive species. For example, the Anole Lizard that you see all over your yard is an invasive species.
So, what’s the big deal, right? Why can’t we all just move to FL and get along? The answer to this is simple. Many (not all) invasive species prey upon the indigenous animals. They overwhelm the local plants and animals before a natural resistance can be formed. This in turn causes a local animal to become endangered pretty rapidly. The Florida Scrub Jay is a beautiful bird endemic to our state. But between humans displacing them and invasive species killing them they are fighting for their very survival. In fact only several thousand of the 2 million year old species still exist from a population of over 100,000 less than 100 years ago.
This brings us to our latest threat of invasive species. Over in Tampa, a man spotted a Nile Monitor in his yard. He also spotted a juvenile monitor along with it. This means that there are Nile Monitors living and reproducing on the “left coast” of Florida. This lizard is what is considered a “generalist feeder”, meaning it will eat anything and everything it comes across. Nothing is sacred for this reptile. It grows to be a large animal and at full size can be over 5 feet in length.
“These are considered monster lizards,” said graduate student Ella Guedouar, who attends The Water School at Florida Gulf Coast University. “Cape Coral is actually the biggest population of Nile monitors in Florida,” Guedouar said.
These creatures will eat crabs, caterpillars, snails, birds, rodents, you name it. And when a human suffers a bite from one of these monsters it can become very infected and end in death if not treated. This is because the mouth of these lizards is teaming with bacteria.
It is thought that the lizards came from escaped populations within the state. That can be from both professional and amateur animal keepers. In essence people lose or release their giant pet lizard and they can also escape from zoos.