(MIAMI) — Florida can now add man-eating crocs to its growing list of invasive species. Researchers from the University of Florida have confirmed that three Nile crocodiles were captured near Miami, and there may be more out there in the wild.
University of Florida herpetologist Kenneth Krysko and his co-authors recently published a paper revealing that DNA testing from three crocs captured in 2009, 2011 and 2014 proves they are Nile crocodiles, a species native to sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the southern Mediterranean coast that can grow over 16 feet long and weigh more than 1,600 pounds.
It’s also known to prey upon humans, among other animals. Researchers estimate that Nile crocs kill up to 200 people each year worldwide.
DNA testing showed the captured reptiles matched genetically, but they didn’t match the Nile crocodiles kept at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and other licensed attractions in Florida, which suggests these killer crocs were likely brought to the Sunshine State illegally. All three were captured in South Florida, with one found in the Everglades National Park, confirming that the non-native species can thrive in the Florida wetlands and perhaps beyond.
“Much of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts could provide similar climatic conditions,” Kyrsko and his co-authors wrote in the paper.
Florida has two native crocodilians: the American alligator and American crocodile. But four non-native species have been introduced to the southeast state since 1960, researchers said. There are a number of other dangerous invasive species spreading through southern Florida, such as the Burmese python.
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