Florida has become a free-for-all for the crazy animals of the sunshine state. Alligators run the land and chew on severed limbs, peacocks peck the paint off of people's cars, and monkeys give everybody herpes. As if sweating in full humidity wasn't annoying enough, lots of problem animals in Florida cause a whole lot of grief for residents. There's just something about Florida's sticky, hot weather that makes it the perfect breeding ground for escaped animals on the loose and non-native predators.
Invasive animals in Florida run amok because no one is there to stop them. With no known predators, animals like the lionfish have resorted to cannibalism. From alligators waddling around the streets to snakes wiping out mammal populations, people in the sunshine state definitely have their hands full. Check out all the Florida animals that are unrestrained to do as they please in the list below.
Burmese pythons are native to Southeast Asia, but started popping up in Florida in the '80s where they were first discovered in Everglades National Park. Researchers estimate that anywhere between 30,000 and 300,000 pythons are living in southern Florida. The problem? They're killing off most of the mammal populations around them.
Ever since pythons moved to town, the native mammal population in the Everglades has declined in a way that is devastating. Where pythons have been living the longest, the raccoon population dropped 99.3%, the opossum population dropped 98.9%, and the bobcat population dropped 97.5%.
According to USGS Director Marcia McNutt, there's no real way to stop the problem. She states, “Pythons are wreaking havoc on one of America’s most beautiful, treasured, and naturally bountiful ecosystems. Right now, the only hope to halt further python invasion into new areas is swift, decisive, and deliberate human action.”
Florida is famous for two things: Disney World and alligators. In fact, their football team is even named the Florida Gators. But watch out! The actual alligators are real living, breathing reptiles that could kill your family's dog. What's most dangerous about these massive creatures is that they're opportunistic feeders. They'll eat almost anything, if given the chance.
In addition, many alligators have also completely lost their fear of humans. This dramatically increases the potential of dangerous encounters, and unprovoked alligator attacks are becoming increasingly more common. Every once in a while, they've been known to accidentally go for a human. In a famous case in 2016, a young boy was dragged into the water by a gator at a Disney World resort.
Alligators are basically the kings of Florida. Over a million of them roam freely, getting stuck in people's backyard pools and making marshlands a hazard. The scariest part? An alligator can easily outrun any human. You don't have a chance if one decides you're its next meal. It's only a matter of time before they own the land and people start paying them rent.
Monk Parakeets were brought to Florida as pets in the '60s and '70s, but have since taken to the wild. These adorable, brightly-colored birds wreak absolute havoc on Florida's electrical grid. Monk Parakeets make their nests on top of utility poles, which disrupts power and damages electrical equipment. The little birds are costing residents a huge price in maintenance and repair costs.
Additionally, monk parakeets are pretty darn loud. Noisy flocks can be heard from great distances, ruining many peaceful Florida beach vacations. Rumor has it that if you pick up a conch shell in Florida and press it to your ear, you'll hear the distant squawking of parakeets who deeply resent living somewhere that's perpetually humid.
Vervet monkeys have been roaming free in Florida since the 1950's when they were believed to have been released from a local attraction or show. In recent years, this misplaced family of monkeys has greatly expanded. What's not so adorable is how these monkeys accidentally destroy crops. While it's not such a big issue in Florida, in the Caribbean, vervet monkeys cause a number of problems on islands that grow their own food.
The monkeys are also known to be mischievous, stealing food and other small items (like colorful tropical drinks) from unsuspecting tourists.