Florida is known for its diverse and abundant wildlife, but sometimes the animals in the Sunshine State can surprise us with their antics. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most bizarre and fascinating animal stories to emerge from Florida in 2022. From an alligator eating footballs to an iguana falling from trees, these tales showcase the unexpected, amusing, and sometimes tragic nature of Florida’s animal kingdom. Read to the end to discover the identity of a mysterious, strange-looking creature filmed in Tampa. . . Was it a new type?
Florida has more than 1.3 million alligators throughout the state. With so many gates, and so many Floridians with cameras, it’s no surprise to find some amazing photos. Like the photographer at Big Cypress National Preserve who snapped a picture of an alligator chomping on a soccer ball! It was not clear if the animal was playing with the pigskin or trying to eat it. . . But our bet is the last. The real question, as one commentator pointed out, is: “Everybody’s worried about the football and not the person who was carrying it?”
2. Crocodiles don’t like flying discs
Tragically, on May 31, 2022, a 47-year-old man died while trying to retrieve a flying disc from an alligator-infested lake at John S. Taylor Park in Tampa Bay. The park has an 18-hole flying disc golf course abutting the lake, and multiple signs warn against swimming due to the presence of barriers. This isn’t the first time this has happened: another man looking for a missing flying disc was bitten in the face in the same lake and later died. Both incidents occurred during the alligators’ spring mating season when they became more aggressive and territorial.
3. Iguanas fall for Christmas
Before Christmas 2022, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission warns that an expected blast of cold air could cause iguanas to lose muscle control and fall from trees. Iguanas are not native to Florida, but they are an invasive species that can wreak havoc on residential and commercial landscapes—as well as the Good Samaritans trying to help them. The FFWC warned: “Whatever you do, don’t bring wild green iguanas into your home or car to keep warm! They can recover more quickly than you think, and get defensive, using their long tails and sharp teeth and claws.”
4. Texas Dog Shows Up in Florida – 7 Years Later
Jazzy the dog ran away after being startled by fireworks in her Texas home. Those must have been some pretty scary fireworks, because Jazzy didn’t turn up until December 2022 – 7 years after her escape – hundreds of miles away in Orlando, Florida. She is found abandoned in the hotel room, severely ill with arthritis and barely able to walk. Animal rescuers located her owners by scanning her microchip and called her owner, Kerry, who immediately hopped on a plane to Florida and met her. As soon as she heard his voice, she fell asleep, and began licking his hand vigorously, getting as close to her body as possible to be near him. Kerry said he never gave up hope of finding her. Jazzy obviously felt the same way.
5. Florida makes manatee salad
Manatees are an endangered species of cute and inquisitive aquatic mammals that live in the waterways of Florida. Unfortunately, their curiosity often leads them to investigate human activities on the water, where they can be injured by boat propellers or get caught in fishing nets and drown. With strong conservation efforts, their numbers have rebounded from 2,000 to more than 8,000 in 2016. However, in recent years, pollution and increasing water temperatures have caused algae to grow on the water’s surface, blocking the kelp’s sunlight. He eats.
In the Indian River Lagoon, where manatees winter, 90% of the seaweed is dead and 1,100 manatees will starve to death in 2021. Wildlife officials have decided to start feeding the manatees with lettuce and other vegetables in 2022 as an emergency measure. 350-800 manatees per day benefited from the free meal. The state has set aside $8 million to restore the seagrass fields, but it will take time for the plan to make a difference for the manatees.
6. Investigating Shark Abuse
In December, Indian Harbor police investigated disturbing video of a fisherman hitting a shark on the head with a hammer before another man pulled it into the water to release it. This was similar to another incident in August when the Florida Wildlife Commission investigated two men who dragged a shark ashore and stabbed it in the head. On that incident, the FWC concluded: “It is common practice for fishermen to euthanize sharks after landing due to safety and ethical concerns. This video is not currently under investigation as no violation of state law has occurred regarding the method of harvesting.”
7. The Bobcat/Alligator Fight on the Back Porch
A Port Charlotte man in May 2022 watched a nature documentary unfold on his front porch, in which a full-grown bobcat fought with a baby alligator. Although the difference in size put the fight in favor of the bobcat, the gator put up an epic fight, jumping, pecking, and trying to escape from the big cat. After the cat had carried its prey into the woods, the homeowner expressed relief: “Thanks, my dog would have bitten. Bobcat is doing me a favor.” There was no comment from the dog, because the wild cat, the size of a large dog, was kept at large. . .
8. THE BIGGEST PYTHON CAPTED IN THE NATION
Researchers in Florida’s Everglades National Park used a smaller python as bait to capture the largest Burmese python ever recovered from the wild in the state. The female was 18 feet tall and weighed 215 pounds. She is caught using a smaller snake as bait. Burmese pythons typically grow 6-10 feet in length. They are not native to the area, but a seriously destructive invasive species that seems to have become established in large part due to pet owners releasing unwanted snakes into the wild. Today it rivals crocodiles as the ecosystem’s top predator, and has caused a rapid decline in prey species ranging from small mammals to deer and crocodiles.
9. Alligator legs bull shark
On May 28, a Florida fisherman videotaped an alligator chasing a bull shark that was apparently about half the alligator’s length. These two animals rarely cross paths, but the St. Lucie River is a place where their ecosystems overlap. The fisherman had just caught the bull shark and pulled it to the rocky shore when a crocodile emerged from the water and started crawling after the shark. But the shark dodged the attack and the crocodile changed his mind and backed off. In the end, he was the winner in this amazing confrontation. . . Fisherman.
10. The Mysterious Creature in Tampa
On March 28, 2022, a Tampa resident posted a creepy photo of a nearly hairless, elongated, gray, four-legged animal looking directly into the camera. Seeing it, you might agree with the tweet he posted on the subject: “I’m getting out of Tampa, bro!” Commentators have speculated that it was anything from a bear with alopecia, a dingo, or a hairless Mexican dog. Some have jokingly speculated that it was some kind of infernal monster, perhaps even a runaway from a Disney animated feature. A Miami Zoo specialist solved the mystery: The creature was actually a coyote with a severe case of mange. Mange is a common disease of canines, caused by mites that burrow into the skin causing itchy inflammation and hair loss. Coyotes are found in every US state except Hawaii and live not only in rural and wild areas, but in suburban and urban areas as well. Unless they have rabies, they avoid people, but experts warn they can pose a danger to pets and young children.
So there you have it, the 10 Weirdest Florida Wildlife Stories of 2022. If you liked those stories, check out these: