Published: 17:24 EDT, 9 April 2012 | Updated: 17:24 EDT, 9 April 2012>
After years of being a rare sight in Florida, crocodiles that can grow more than 14 feet long are making their way back to the region in huge numbers.
The reptiles have multiplied 10-fold in the last 40 years in south Florida with about 1,500 crocodiles.
But now they face a new challenge in the area because most of the places they used to call home are now inhabited by humans.
They're back: Crocodiles, which were once a rare sight in Florida, are making a comeback in the southern part of the state now living in places near humans
New friends: Last year, Florida officials received more than 100 calls from people complaining about run-ins with crocodiles as they become more common
This has resulted in more than 100 calls to Florida wildlife officials last year alone about crocodile-related complaints presenting a new problem for homeowners in the area.
But because the species had been considered 'endangered' for several years, wildlife officials aren't able to immediately remove a crocodile in the area like they would for alligators.
- >Outrage after whale shark is tied up for 2.5 hours so girl... >Police in Hawaii can now issue barking tickets… to dog...
Share this articleShare
There are about 1million alligators throughout the state.
Instead, officials will only consider moving a crocodile after a third call from residents complaining about the animal being a nuisance.
Crocodiles are now listed as a 'threatened' species that needs special protection because they still exist in low numbers in the area compared to other animals.
Another creature: Crocodiles aren't the only ones taking over in Florida as burmese pythons invaded the area
Big encounter: Pythons are a huge problem in Florida because of their size and close presence to humans
Florida has become a popular new home for interesting creatures, including huge pythons that are wiping out the state's mammal populations.
A burgeoning population of huge pythons — many of them pets that were turned loose by their owners when they got too big — appears to be wiping out large numbers of raccoons, opossums, bobcats and other mammals in the Everglades, according to a study from the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study found that sightings of medium-size mammals are down dramatically — as much as 99 percent, in some cases — in areas where pythons and other large, non-native constrictor snakes are known to be lurking.
Scientists fear the pythons could disrupt the food chain and upset the Everglades' environmental balance in ways difficult to predict.
Animals love Florida: African rats the size of cats have also taken up the warm state as their new home
Concern: Officials worry that the voracious rats, which grow to nine pounds, might wipe out some crops and upset the delicate ecological balance
Another species that has threatened the state's environment are giant Gambian pouch rats that have been found on Florida's Grassy Key despite concerted efforts by conservation officials to eradicate them.
Officials worry that the voracious rats, which grow to nine pounds, might wipe out some crops and upset the delicate ecological balance if they manage to reach the Florida mainland.
The Gambian rat first appeared on Grassy Key in 1999 after eight rats escaped from a local exotic pets breeder.
'We thought we had them whipped as of 2009,' Scott Hardin, exotic-species coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told keysnet.com.
'In the early part of 2011, a resident e-mailed me and said he saw one of the rats. We were skeptical but went back and talked to people and [saw] there were rats that we missed,' he added.
Here to stay?: Once crocodiles decide on a place to live, it's difficult to get them to move meaning people in Florida might have to get used to having the species listed as 'threatened' by wildlife officials
After four female rats were found in 2011, officials launched another effort to kill them in November and December, primarily through the use of poison-laced cantaloupe and peanut butter.
But those plans failed.
And it might become difficult to control crocodiles' interaction with humans if that population continues to grow.
Crocodiles tend to stick to an area they decided they will live in now matter how much they have moved.
So even if they leave a particular spot they chose as their own for weeks and travel far away, they are likely to return.
They will likely continue to be one of the many species like boa constrictors, Nile monitor lizards, vervet monkeys and more to join the state - and wreak havoc on local animal species.
Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2127436/Crocodiles-grow-14-feet-long-making-comeback-south-Florida--places-humans-live-now.html