Hello All! My name is Jenna, and I am a wildlife conservation student currently pursuing a Master's degree at the University of Florida - you can read more about me in my bio! I am here today to write a general overview of the topic which I am focusing most of my time and energy towards as a student: Invasive animals.
What is an invasive species?
To understand what an invasive species is, we first need to recognize that invasive species are only animals which are not native to the area they have invaded. Nonnative species are any introduced, alien, or exotic species living beyond its native geographic range. A nonnative species is not necessarily an "invasive species", but an invasive species MUST be a nonnative one.
Invasive Species are any plant or animal that is not native to an environment, which steadily proliferates until it is taking over the native landscape/ecosystems.
These "invaders" become established, reproduce, and wreak havoc on the native species in an area. The area I will be focusing on a quite a hot spot - FLORIDA! Florida is easily suceptable to alien invasions, and many species that are already introduced present novel difficulties for management, or have other characteristics making effective management extremely challenging (Engeman et al. 2011). The Sunshine State has become a mixing pot for nonnative animals - there are all sorts of pets and so-called "zoo animals" which have been released. From parrots, Lion fish, and monkeys, to Pythons, Caiman, Argentine Tegus, and Chameleons - Florida is full of nonnative invaders.
Why are they in Florida? Where did they come from?
It is easy to say that these critters have been introduced in Florida through human interference - brought over on a boat importing goods or escaped/released/abandoned pets being the most common methods of introduction (myFWC.com). I have been told stories by acquaintances in Maryland (my home state) of how they went on vacation and dumped their neighbor's Boa constrictors on the side of interstate - they were doing the "neighborly thing" by dumping these pets in an area where they had a chance of surviving rather than rehoming or humanely euthanizing them.
Unfortunately for poor Florida, it is now facing a huge problem. The boas and pythons are picking off the native mammals one-by-one (Dorcas et al. 2011), and the giant lizards (the Argentine Tegu and the Nile Monitor) are quickly moving in to pick-off a few other native animals as well.
Which nonnative animals in Florida are the most prevalent/problematic?
Burmese Python (INVASIVE!)
Argentine Tegu (INVASIVE)
Nile Monitor (INVASIVE)
Chameleons (not invasive, just nonnative!)
Stay tuned for posts detailing the impacts these problematic critters are having on Florida's native ecosystems!
About the blog
Ferrets and Friends, LLC has four writers bringing you information on a variety of topics from pets to wildlife, education to conservation, and from new developments in our business to information about our industry. Learn something new each week!