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The Most Harmful Invasive Species in Florida

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The Most Harmful Invasive Species in Florida

The Most Harmful Invasive Species in Florida

Date: Dec 4, 2022
Author: Jane Goodall 105 No Comments

Florida is home to one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, sporting thousands of thriving species. But not all these species are native, and many can cause chaos in the state’s ecosystem. Keep reading to learn about the most harmful invasive species in Florida.

Burmese Python

Many of the invasive species on this list started as pets before being released into the wild by careless owners. The Burmese python is perhaps the most frightening example of this recklessness, as this large, nonvenomous constrictor thrives in Florida’s everglades.

These constrictor pythons are especially damaging to the many endangered bird species in the everglades and often attack native Florida frogs and snakes. If you see a Burmese python, Florida officials advise you to report it to local wildlife commissions for immediate removal.

Cuban Tree Frogs

The Cuban tree frog is a menace to Florida’s ecosystem, especially for other frogs and some reptiles. The Cuban tree frog likely originated as stowaways on cargo ships that went overboard and found a home in Florida’s lush ecosystem.

Cuban tree frogs feast on smaller species of snakes and frogs and have prolific reproduction cycles. The tadpoles of the Cuban tree frog also compete with native tadpoles for the precious space and resources in Florida.

Green Mussels

Invasive species aren’t exclusive to just reptiles and amphibians—there are also invasive mollusks that plague Florida’s marine life, such as green mussels. Green mussels likely entered the Sunshine State in the early 21st century and have since become commonplace in many marine areas around its coast.

Green mussels grow in concentrated packs and can destroy native oyster beds. They’re also a drag on Florida’s marine infrastructure, as they can attach to boats, buoys, and other marine structures.

Pro Tip: Although people sometimes eat them, green mussels typically grow in polluted waters, so officials advise against ever consuming them in Florida.

Snakehead

The snakehead is one of the most harmful invasive fish species in Florida and has populated Florida’s canals and rivers for decades. The large and predatory fish likely arrived as a pet but has since become a menace to Florida’s freshwater ecosystem.

The aggressive and predatory nature of the snakehead makes it a disruptive force in Florida. If you are freshwater fishing in Florida, you can take preventive measures to help slow the spread of invasive species like the snakehead.

Clown Knife Fish

Last but not least, we have perhaps the most frighteningly named species in Florida’s waters—the clown knife fish. Its name conjures a frightening image, and while it’s not as aggressive as the snakehead, the clown knife fish is still a large and predatory species.

Originally from Indochina, the clown knife fish is mostly known to frequent the waters around West Palm Beach and the Boca Raton area.

Each of these invasive species lacks substantial competition in Florida. Efforts to rid the Sunshine State of invasive species range from state-sponsored hunts to spreading awareness. Addressing this issue ensures that Florida’s native flora and fauna can survive.

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