From the Everglades to the Gulf Coast, there are tales that have been passed down through generations of Floridians – stories of enormous, man-eating crocodiles lurking in the swamps and waterways of the Sunshine State. While this myth may have been a part of Florida’s folklore for hundreds of years, many are surprised to learn that the truth behind it may not be quite as sensational. Are there really crocodiles in Florida? In this article, we explore the facts behind the myth, so you can decide for yourself.
Are There Crocodiles In Florida?
There are no confirmed reports of crocodiles living in Florida, but there is some speculation that they may exist in the state. However, there is no evidence to support this claim and it’s more likely that they would be found in warmer climates.
Historical Evidence Of Crocodiles In Florida
- In 1559, a Spanish explorer named Ponce de Leon claimed to have seen a crocodile in the Florida Keys.
- In 1665, an Englishman named John Lederer wrote about seeing a crocodile in the St. Johns River.
- In 1868, a hunter named Samuel Fletcher claimed to have shot and killed a crocodile in the Everglades.
- In 1924, an article about crocodiles in Florida was published in the Miami Herald.
- In 1947, a study of crocodiles in the Florida Keys was published in the Journal of Mammalogy.
- In 1957, a study of crocodiles in the Florida Keys was published in the Journal of Wildlife Management.
- In 1970, a study of crocodiles in the Everglades was published in the Journal of Herpetology.
- In 1976, a study of crocodiles in the Everglades was published in the Journal of Wildlife Management.
- In 1990, a study of crocodiles in Lake Okeechobee was published in the Journal of Herpetology.
- In 2003, a study of crocodiles in Lake Okeechobee was published in the journal Herpetology Research.
- In 2006, an article about crocodiles in Florida was published in National Geographic magazine.
- Today, there is evidence that crocs live throughout much of Florida, including near populated areas like Miami and Orlando. However, there has never been any confirmed sighting or report of a live croc in Florida’s major metropolitan areas.
Types Of Crocodiles In Florida
- American Crocodile – Found in the southeastern United States, this is the most common crocodile in Florida.
- Nile Crocodile – Found in Africa, this is the largest crocodile in the world and can reach lengths of over 9 feet.
- Gavialis Gangeticus – A rare species found only in India, this crocodile is the smallest and most agile of alligators and can grow to be up to 6 feet long.
- Crocodylus niloticus – A subspecies of the American Crocodile, this crocodile is found only in Africa. They are the only crocodiles that can live in salt water.
- Crocodylus porosus – A subspecies of the American Crocodile, this crocodile is found only in Florida and can grow to be over 12 feet long.
- Alligator mississippiensis – The common alligator found in the United States, this alligator can grow to be over 12 feet long.
- Caiman Crocodilus – A rarely-seen crocodile found in the Amazon basin, this species can grow to be over 18 feet long.
- Gavialis gangeticus – A rare species found only in India, this crocodile is the smallest and most agile of alligators and can grow to be up to 6 feet long.
How To Avoid Confrontation With A Crocodile
- Respect the animal’s space. Crocodiles are wild animals and should not be approached or disturbed without prior consent from a park ranger or other authorized personnel.
- Avoid swimming in areas where crocs are known to congregate.
- Use caution when walking near water bodies, especially at dawn and dusk when crocs are most active.
- Keep children close to you when in or near water and do not allow them to wander off on their own.
- If you encounter a croc while hiking, back away slowly and do not turn your back on the animal. Crocodiles may misinterpret human movement as a sign of aggression and may attack.
- If you see a crocodile in the wild, make loud noises (such as yelling) and try to scare it away by waving your arms or throwing objects at it. Do not try to touch or feed the crocodile; it may attack if provoked.
- If you encounter a crocodile while outdoors, leave the area immediately and call authorities for help if possible. If you cannot safely leave the area, hide under a tree or in some other safe location until help arrives. Never try to capture or trap a crocodile; doing so could result in injury or death.
- If you are stranded in a remote area and see a crocodile, do not approach it. Remain calm and wait for help to arrive.
- If you encounter a crocodile while swimming in a public pool, avoid swimming near the edge of the pool; instead, stay in the middle or at the back of the pool.
- Crocodiles are protected under state and federal law, so it is illegal to hunt, trap, or kill them without proper authorization from authorities.
Conservation Efforts For Crocodiles In Florida
- In 1973, the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission (now known as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) created a program to protect alligators and crocodiles.
- Crocodiles are classified as a protected species in Florida, and all hunting, trapping, and fishing of them are prohibited.
- In 2000, the Florida Legislature passed a bill to protect alligators and crocodiles statewide. This law protects these animals from being captured or killed for their meat or eggs unless they are posing a threat to public safety.
- In 2006, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission created a new program to protect alligators and crocodiles in Everglades National Park.
- The program provides for the capture, relocation, and release of alligators and crocodiles that have been captured in the wild. It is hoped that this program will help restore populations of these animals in the Everglades.
- In 2014, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission established a statewide task force to study the potential for restoring populations of alligators and crocodiles in Florida.
- The task force will study the best methods for protecting these animals, as well as the possible economic benefits of restoring populations of these animals.
- Despite the conservation efforts, crocodiles are still occasionally found in Florida. In 2013, a crocodile was found in the Miami area, and in 2014, a crocodile was found in the Tampa area.
- These incidents are rare, and overall, the population of crocodiles in Florida is healthy.
- However, the myth that crocodiles live in Florida is still alive and well, and people are still afraid of them. It is important to remember that these animals are protected by law, and there is no need to be afraid of them.
Many Floridians are surprised to learn that there are indeed crocodiles in their state; however, these reptiles typically inhabit the southernmost regions. While the American crocodile is the species most commonly found in Florida, the endemic Cuban crocodile can also be found in very small numbers. Crocodiles are wild animals, so you should never attempt to approach one or get too close to its nest. While crocodiles are not typically aggressive towards humans, confrontation with one can still be dangerous. Crocodiles are threatened by many of the same things that threaten other species, including climate change, habitat loss, and hunting. By working towards the conservation of crocodiles in Florida, we can help ensure the survival of these fascinating animals for generations to come.