Nile Crocodiles In South Florida

Just the thing to make a day at the swamp exciting…

If the native American Alligator and American Crocodiles were not enough, now they have found 3 examples of the Nile Crocodile (over a 5 year span).

Since there are already large crocodiles in Florida, why does this matter? Let’s take a look at the differences… but just after this pointer to the Orlando Sentinel:

http://touch.orlandosentinel.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-87255231/

Nile crocodiles slither into South Florida
Terry Spencer, Associated Press
9:12 pm, May 19, 2016

FORT LAUDERDALE — Step aside, Burmese python — you may no longer be Florida’s scariest invasive species.

Researchers have confirmed that three Nile crocodiles were captured near Miami, and they say it’s possible more of the man-eating reptiles are still out there, although no one can say for sure.

The big question now: How did they get to Florida?

“They didn’t swim from Africa,” University of Florida herpetologist Kenneth Krysko said. “But we really don’t know how they got into the wild.”

Krysko and his co-authors just published a paper showing that DNA testing proved the three animals captured in 2009, 2011 and 2014 are Nile crocs, a species whose males grow to over 16 feet long and weigh upward of 1,600 pounds.

So they found three of them, in 2009, 2011, and 2014. But now this is news because someone published a paper? Really? OK…

There are two quotes from the article that I just love (for their bias…)

Krysko and two co-authors, independent wildlife biologist Joe Wasilewski and UF wildlife ecology professor Frank Mazzotti, think more Nile crocs lurk unfound in the Everglades, but they aren’t certain.

Allyson Gantt, a spokeswoman for Everglades National Park, where one of the reptiles was found, disagrees, saying no Nile crocs still roam the park.

“Are to! Are Not!!“… so y’all just keep coming to the park and playing in the swamp… don’t worry a bit, ’cause we know for absolute fact that not a single pair of slightly different colored eyes and nostrils are hiding anywhere in any square foot of it or on the bottom. We looked.

Now “look at the negative space” (or “between the lines”) of this quote:

All three Nile crocodiles were captured in extreme South Florida.

The first, a hatchling, was found on a front porch and sent to a Louisiana reptile exhibit. The second, a female measuring 4 feet, was captured at a park. Wasilewski kept it, but later gave it to another licensed researcher. The third was captured twice. The first trapper didn’t have the proper permit, so he released the female. The croc was recaptured two years later 18 miles away by water in Everglades National Park. It was euthanized.

3 crocs, over 5 years. One as a hatchling, the others later and bigger. One hatchling and two females… OK… so what happened to the male that made the hatchling possible? Also was this a nest of exactly ONE egg? Or three? (And, if three, where is the mama crocodile too…)

But the good folks at the park are exceedingly sure there can’t possibly be even one more in the entire Everglades swamp, or any of its tributaries, despite one sample moving 18 miles from where first caught.

I think someone is “making stuff up” from “facts not in evidence”.

OK, why does this matter? Because the American Crocodile is not known to eat people or cows, while the Nile Crocodile likes them for dinner. Also the American Crocodile likes semi-salty water and doesn’t go inland much while the Nile likes, well, rivers and swamps. The American Alligator tends to live in the fresh water areas, and it is smaller than the crocs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_crocodile

The American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) is a species of crocodilian found in the Neotropics. It is the most widespread of the four extant species of crocodiles from the Americas. Populations occur from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of southern Mexico to South America as far as Peru and Venezuela. It also lives on many of the Caribbean islands such as Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola and Grand Cayman.

Within the United States, the American crocodile’s distribution is limited to Puerto Rico and the southern half of Florida, though at least two have been found as far north as the Tampa Bay area. The current US population, estimated at 2,000, represents a significant recovery from a few hundred in the 1970s.

The habitat of the American crocodile consists largely of coastal areas. It is also found in river systems, but has a tendency to prefer, not merely to tolerate, some level of salinity, resulting in the species’s congregating in brackish lakes, mangrove swamps, lagoons, cays, and small islands. Other crocodiles also have tolerance to salt water due to salt glands underneath the tongue, but the American crocodile is the only species other than the saltwater crocodile (C. porosus) to commonly live and thrive in salt water. They can be found on beaches and small island formations without any freshwater source, such as some of the many cays and islets across the Bahamas and the Caribbean. They are also found in hypersaline lakes; one of the largest known populations inhabits the Lago Enriquillo.

The American is one of the larger crocodile species. Males can reach lengths of 6.1 m (20 ft), weighing up to 907 kg (2,000 lb). On average, mature males are more in the range of 4.1 m (13 ft) to 4.8 m (16 ft) in length weighing about 400 kg (880 lb). As with other crocodile species, females are smaller; rarely exceeding 3.8 m (12 ft) in length.

About the size of the “salty” of Australia…(Yeah, they CLAIM theirs is bigger, but really, arguing over 6 inches…)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saltwater_crocodile

The saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), also known as the estuarine crocodile, Indo-Pacific crocodile, marine crocodile, sea-going crocodile or informally as saltie, is the largest of all living reptiles, as well as the largest terrestrial and riparian predator in the world. Males of this species can reach sizes up to 6.3 m (20.7 ft) and weigh up to 1,360 kg (3,000 lb), and possibly up to 7.1 m (23.3 ft) in length and a weight of 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). However, an adult male saltwater crocodile is on average between 4.5 and 5.0 m (14.8 and 16.4 ft) and 450 to 590 kg (990–1,300 lb), with an average maximum size of 6 m (19.7 ft) and 1,000 to 1,200 kg (2,200–2,600 lb), rarely growing larger. Females are much smaller and often do not surpass 3 m (9.8 ft). As its name implies, this species of crocodile can live in salt water, but usually resides in mangrove swamps, estuaries, deltas, lagoons, and lower stretches of rivers. They have the broadest distribution of any modern crocodile, ranging from the eastern coast of India, throughout most of Southeast Asia, and northern Australia.

20 ft. vs 20.7 ft. (“I’m not counting the “possibly” 23 foot / 4400 lb) Though that 2000 lbs vs 3000 lbs means theirs is a fat SOB and ours more lean… must be the ‘beach time’ leading to wanting to look more sleek…

Compare the Nile:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nile_crocodile

The Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) is an African crocodile and may be considered the second largest extant reptile in the world, after the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). The Nile crocodile is quite widespread throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, occurring mostly in the central, eastern, and southern regions of the continent and lives in different types of aquatic environments such as lakes, rivers and marshlands. Although capable of living in saline environments, this species is rarely found in saltwater, but occasionally inhabits deltas and brackish lakes. The range of this species once stretched northward throughout the Nile, as far north as the Nile delta. On average, the adult male Nile crocodile is between 3.5 and 5 m (11 ft 6 in and 16 ft 5 in) in length and weighs 225 to 750 kg (496 to 1,653 lb). However, specimens reaching 6.45 m (21 ft 2 in) in length and weighing up to 1,090 kg (2,400 lb) have been recorded. Sexual dimorphism is prevalent, and females are usually about 30% smaller than males. They have thick scaly skin that is heavily armored.

So bigger by a foot in exceptional specimens, and 400 lbs heavier. However, since many of the American version were killed (even by the local Indians prior to the European invasion) and it can take a 100 years to grow a really big one, I suspect the USA crock can get just as big. There’s a large exhibit sign with a giant crock on it and load of Indians fighting it with what looks like a telephone pole sized spear at a beach park north of the Kennedy Space facility. IIRC, it said that the Indians had stories of monster sized crocks from the old days. Does anyone really doubt that a 22 foot long 3500 lb Crocodile lounging around a marina would not be left alone for long?

This story basically comes down to the Nile being a more inland species and likely to snack on cattle and people, while the American form likes to hang out in the mangroves near the beach. They say the American Crocodile doesn’t eat people, but the Indian stories tended otherwise… I suspect it is just a matter of size, number, and time…

In Conclusion

I am pretty sure the Nile Crocodile story isn’t over yet. There were three caught that may have been from the same clutch, and that took about 2 years each to find. Which means we have another 1/2 year or so to be on track. That the parents were never found is also intriguing. (There is the remote chance someone imported 3 small hatchling sized crocodiles all of the same sex, then let them loose, I suppose…)

OTOH, since the American Alligator is “not small” I’m not going to be swimming in the swamp anyway. There have been a few folks “munched” from sitting with their feet too close to the waters edge…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_alligator

The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), sometimes referred to colloquially as a gator or common alligator, is a large crocodilian reptile endemic to the southeastern United States. It is one of two living species in the genus Alligator within the family Alligatoridae; it is larger than the other extant alligator species, the Chinese alligator. Adult male American alligators measure up to 3.4 to 4.6 m (11 to 15 ft) in length, and can weigh up to 453 kg (999 lb). Females are smaller, measuring around 3 m (9.8 ft). The American alligator inhabits freshwater wetlands, such as marshes and cypress swamps from Texas to North Carolina. It is distinguished from the sympatric American crocodile by its broader snout, with overlapping jaws and darker coloration, and is less tolerant of saltwater but more tolerant of cooler climates than the American crocodile, which is found only in tropical climates.

So “only” 15 feet and 1000 lbs. So “only” eats people on rare occasions…

And that, boys and girls, is why when you drive down I-95 / I-4 or I-75 into Florida headed to Disney World, and see all the wonderful and beautiful little lakes and ponds all over (one county is named “Lake County”) you will NOT see anyone swimming in the lakes. Clean beautiful placid water… And boats with decent size, and hands and feet not hanging out…

I did see some kids swimming in one lake near Kissimmee. At the boat dock. Several adults were fishing from the pier next to it. At about 4:15 P.M. one Dad hollered “Out of the water!”. About 10 minutes later a large gator swam by. I asked… “Oh, that’s just Gertrude. She swims by about 4:30 on her way to her feeding grounds on the other side of the lake. Sleeps in the weeds over there… So we get the kids out about 4.”

I’m not sure I’d trust my kids to the stomach clock of a 10 foot Gator… but there are some places where you will find a few souls swimming in the lakes. At least, for a little while …

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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14 Responses to Nile Crocodiles In South Florida

  1. cdquarles says:

    Gators are very common now. I’ve seen them in parks in Mobile and they’re known to get quite a bit north of there. Rumors have that they’ve seen them in the Tennessee River. I’ve heard of them being in the Tombigbee and now that there is a canal connecting the Tombigbee and the Tennessee, well :P. I’ve seen 12 to 14 footers in Disney World riding the monorails. Gators generally avoid people, but they will attack if there is a female guarding a nest or cornered. Folk here eat gator and even farm them. Gators love to eat dogs, so if you near the water in the South …. :).

  2. Gail Combs says:

    We have American Alligators in the river here in NC supposedly they do not come up river this far…

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    @CD:

    I had some great Gator Jerkey in Orlando… bought it from a road side truck… Publics had frozen gator in the meat department, but at $27 / lb I was not that willing to try it…

    Since they’ve recently shown that the Gator and Crocodile are actually living dinosaurs, we now know what dinosaur tastes like ;-)

    (Seems a warm blooded land predator re-evolved cold bloodedness when it returned to the water and that was an advantage… )

    So donosaurs did not go extinct. Just the suriving forms are crocodillians and birds…

    So count me in the group that is happy to eat gator or crocodile, fresh, frozen, smoked, jerky, farmed or otherwise… 8-{0

    Now if we can just get open season on them…

  4. PaulID says:

    if you want to try gator here is your best source
    http://www.cajungrocer.com/food/fresh-seafood/alligator.html?p=1
    That being said there is a gator farm here in Idaho near the town of Jerome where I buy mine.

  5. Pouncer says:

    About Louisana, not Florida, but still I remind us all of “Amos Moses”

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    Hey PaulID! Thanks!

    They sell mud bugs too… er, crawdads… um, ‘crayfish’… I can get gator legs and crawdads in one go, spice it up and call it a party! ;-)

  7. PaulID says:

    yup and king cakes and turduken and you name it one of my favorite sites I used to live in a small town called Eunice that is where I learned to cook (I.E. a little of this and a little of that and a whole lot of just winging it.)

  8. Chris in Calgary says:

    Remember all those headlines about “Africanized” killer bees? Well, here comes a new round of headlines: “Africanized” killer crocs. We’re all doomed. *<:o)

  9. Graeme No.3 says:

    Well now they are in the USA I’m sure that they will be protected as “climate refugees”. Can we send you some ‘salties’ from Australia to eat the African ones?

  10. u.k(us) says:

    Nice writing, kept me reading till the end.

  11. Chuckles says:

    How do you tell a crocodile from an alligator?
    One will see you in a while, and the other will see you later.

  12. R. Shearer says:

    Cdquarles, gators riding the monorail at Disney?

  13. Jason Calley says:

    Animals sometime travel quite a bit beyond their normal range. Some decades back, a manatee was spotted in Northern Arkansas in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. Yes. Really!

    Speaking of gators… I am currently thinking of a genetic engineering project. I want to put salamander genes into an alligator. My plan is to harvest the gator tails for jerky and then have them regrow. :)

  14. cdquarles says:

    He he. I was riding the monorails and looked down. What do you know, there’s a big gator or two or four down there.

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