Cold snap kills Florida’s native and invasive species
Unseasonably cold weather in Florida this winter has had deadly consequences for the American state’s wildlife. Chilled iguanas are plummeting from their perches onto the freezing ground. Non-native tropical fish – both wild and kept in outdoor tanks at fish farms – are freezing to death. Burmese and African rock pythons have also been dying off – not an altogether unwelcome side effect of the cold weather for some. An article in the Guardian explains:
Most of these invasive species – including pythons, iguanas, Nile monitor lizards and tropical fish – are either house pets or descended from house pets, which were let go into the wilds where they subsequently flourished. Florida’s suitable warm climate and lack of predators or competitive species provide a more than perfect home for many exotic pets.
The python die-off could be helpful to wildlife officials. The alien constrictors, many of them abandoned pets, have been taking over portions of the Everglades, threatening native species.
But invasive animals aren’t the only ones vulnerable to the cold snap. Florida’s crocodiles, sea turtles and endangered manatees are also taking casualties. 200 dead manatees have been found since the start of this year.
Discovery News reports on the cold snap’s Florida fatalities, but it’s not all bad news:
Thanks to tremendous effort from FWC staff and volunteers, she said more than 4,500 sea turtles were rescued from the state’s chilly waters in January. The turtles were placed in warm salt water to revive them and allowed to recover. Nearly 80 percent of the rescued sea turtles have since been released.
Let’s hope the sea turtles can make it through the rest of the winter without needing another rescue and Jacuzzi treatment.