Florida Has a Fresh New Invasive-Species Hell

Green anacondas may be breeding, worrying locals and conservationists
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2023 9:45 AM CDT
Updated Jul 29, 2023 9:30 AM CDT
Florida Has a Fresh New Invasive Species Hell
Stock photo of an anaconda.   (Getty Images/Frank Cornelissen)

A Burmese python incursion has become a headache for Florida over the past two decades, but that's not the only pesky reptile the Sunshine State is now contending with. The green anaconda, the world's heaviest snake, has also been setting down roots, with NBC2 reporting that the invasive species from South America has been increasingly spotted in the Everglades since 2000. USA Today notes there's even a suspected population of green anacondas breeding outside of Naples, in Collier County's Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park.

The females of the species can grow to be more than 25 feet in the wild and weigh in excess of 425 pounds, and they go after a selection of prey described by USA Today as "extensive and varied"—the anaconda's menu includes birds, amphibians, mammals, fish, and even other reptiles. The green anaconda, aka Eunectes murinus, "swallows its prey whole, even prey much larger than the diameter of their mouths," per the US Geological Survey. "They are known to consume large prey such as peccaries, capybaras, tapirs, deer, and sheep." What especially worries local conservationists is the effect that green anacondas might have on the delicate Everglades ecosystem, especially since juveniles are now popping up far from human-populated areas, suggesting the constrictors are breeding.

"I worry about the deer out here and the natural animals," local John Busch of Copeland tells NBC2. The News-Press notes that deadly exotics like anacondas, which have been seen as far south as Miami and as far north as Gainesville, typically end up in the wild after being held as pets and accidentally escaping or even intentionally being released. Other dangerous species the paper warns "could end up in Florida swamps, forests, canals, or ponds, maybe even your backyard" include Nile and saltwater crocs, king cobras, and black mambas. (More Florida stories.)

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