Caecilians are very often neglected members of amphibians, but currently, one species is making a name for itself in Florida. After discovering an opportunity a few years ago, surveys revealed that particular Caecilians could be dragging its way to permanent residence in the United States for the first time, as DNA analysis and samples show that non-native amphibians have set up camp in a canal. Where, you may ask? Meet the sex snake in Florida. These weak, snake-like creatures may not look so good, but by considering almost all of them blind, you can forgive evolution for falling by the wayside in pursuit of their bizarre beauty.
The sight of some species has even gone so far as to grow skin on the eyes that after so long underground scrabbling and they have adapted as great diggers as a result. We’ll leave it to the table hand of the Internet to establish why caecilians might be known as male snakes, but the specific invader currently trembling freely in Florida is Typhlonectes natans. Residents of the Cauca and Magdalena river drainage basins in Colombia, as well as the Maracaibo Basin in Venezuela, are certainly far from this rubbery fugitive home.
As studies in the Journal of Reptiles and Amphibians have explained, it is still too early to know whether abnormal amphibians have successfully established wild populations, but the conditions of their adopted home are suitable for these moisture-loving animals. Doubts about the arrival of the sex snake first arose when the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission caught a living specimen in Miami’s Tamiami Canal in 2019 during a routine survey. The amazing discovery was captured and adopted as an invasive species but it failed to feed in captivity and died. Since then, there have been several reports of FFWC visits and samples from the same canal in Miami.
Penis snakes may not be high on the list for potential pet owners, but they are easily accessible in the U.S. pet trade. It is reasonable to assume that these invading animals entered Florida’s waterways as fleeing or abandoned pets. Their release, intentionally or accidentally, adds to an extensive list of invasive and exotic animals that have come to Florida as their home.
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