The Nile Crocodile in the Everglades

Nile CrocodileThe Burmese python is well-known to be an invasive species in the Florida Everglades; however, there seems to be another major invasive reptile in the wetland: The Nile crocodile. Yes, the Everglades are full of crocodiles, but they’re native to America. These Nile crocodiles come from Africa. But, how did these crocs make their way across the Atlantic Ocean? And, how they end up swimming around the Everglades? That is the big question.

A University of Florida herpetologist said he isn’t sure how they got into the wild over here, because they certainly didn’t swim from Africa. Nile crocs have been captured in the Everglades in 2009, 2011, and 2014. After reports from locals about strange looking alligators, this scientist and his colleagues captured and tested the crocs. After some DNA testing was done, it was determined these crocodiles are Nile crocodiles, and the three were probably related to each other. However, they were not matched to any of the Nile crocs in any of Florida’s licensed Florida attractions, including Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

What does this mean? Well, these crocs could have been brought over to the area illegally by an unlicensed reptile collector. The crocs could have escaped or have been let go. The crocs found were believed to have escaped from Predator World, and that no one released them but they escaped, according to officials at the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The male Nile croc can grow to be more than 16 feet long and weigh more than 1,600 pounds. They have a bronze/brown/yellow coloring. They are much larger and more aggressive than the American crocodile or American alligator. If this crocodile begins to grow in numbers in the Everglades, it will do harm to the area’s ecosystem. The Everglades is a perfect place for this croc to survive in. Since one of the three captured was captured before and escaped, this proved these crocs can live and survive in Florida for many years and they can grow and populate quickly. Cross-breeding between the American crocodile and the Nile crocodile could create larger crocs in the area, which could endanger the smaller breads of crocodiles and the purity of the American breed.

As of right now, Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission officials aren’t worried, and believe they have captured all the Nile crocodiles in the area, since there have been no other confirmed sightings and no unaccounted for captive animals. These officials conduct regular routine inspections and surveys to look out for exotic and invasive species.  The agency also doesn’t believe these crocs mated with any native crocs in their time in the wild, because of dissimilar habitat and behavior.

Explore the Everglades
Despite being home to crocodiles, especially one’s native to the area, the Everglades is a safe place for humans to explore (with caution and regulations in place, of course). A great way to explore the crocodile’s habitat is with an airboat tour. Contact Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours here or call 800-368-0065 to book a tour today.