Weighing the Odds: The Largest Invasive Animal

Weighing the Odds: The Largest Invasive Animal

Image by Creative Commons. (edited)

No, I'm not talking about our feline friends, or even the cane toad. No, I'm not talking about fish or birds. I've had friends comment their answers to Facebook and I waited to see what everyone would say. Well, I've got some news for you, you guys were right if I was talking about the most invasive. I am in fact addressing the largest modern-day invasive animals that are terrestrial in relation to their size. It looks like it comes down to only three options. Correct me if I'm mistaken.

These two are our largest snakes on the Planet. Reticulated pythons AND Burmese pythons are invasive to Florida right here in the USA. It is legal to hunt these animals. Please follow local restrictions when approaching these animals. Do NOT attempt to catch one. 

Reticulated pythons and Burmese pythons have plenty of differences, while still sizing each other up. Both are endemic to Southeast Asia. What brought them here was a result of careless importation. They are sought after in the pet trade.

Let's talk size.  

Burmese pythons are easily the largest of the two with both nearing twenty-six feet! Only one falls short. The Reticulated python actually falls short of exactly fifty-seven inches on average! That's a pretty big shortcoming if I ever saw one. The Burmese python overcompensates when fully grown. How neat! That means the Reticulated python is NOT the largest of the two.
So, what does that mean? Is the Burmese python the largest invasive animal on Earth? Nope! That title goes to the Hippopotamus. More specifically, the ones that belonged to the notorious drug lord, Pablo Escobar.
He illegally imported one of our most dangerous animals to his hometown from their native habitat in Africa! Starting with a small group originally, overtime they grew to 80 hippos and then grew into a colony of some 120 individuals right in South America. YES, that is real. Source: Unbelievable but true!
Hippos are "weigh" larger than pythons by a lot. They can weigh up to 4 tons! Pythons are constrictors, meaning that they kill their prey by squeezing it. In this scenario, who do you think would win if they were fully grown? 
Considering his hippos were recognized as his 'Cocaine Hippos,' things got a little tricky regarding their management. Hippos are semiaquatic. They've had a lot of babies. They were kind of just let loose. So, even now in 2022, the original Hippos offspring still remain. While adding a viable source of income through tourism for the economy, these animals are wreaking havoc on the environment. Watch video below to see how. The reason why they are one of the most dangerous is because of their fatality rate. They are just as ferocious as our biggest predators. They are mostly herbivorous. 
Making history, these animals were announced to be their own entities by the United States government. Meaning they are legally recognized as, well, people. They could prove a serious problem in the rivers of that area.  

The offspring of hippos once owned by Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar can be recognized as people or “interested persons” with legal rights in the U.S. following a federal court order. The case involves a lawsuit against the Colombian government over whether to kill or sterilize the hippos whose numbers are growing at a fast pace and pose a threat to biodiversity. An animal rights groups is hailing the order as a milestone victory in the long-sought efforts to sway the U.S. justice system to grant animals personhood status. But the order won’t carry any weight in Colombia where the hippos live, a legal expert said. Source: NBC News

Given the fact that two types of hippo are considered to be endangered or vulnerable, this could be a win or a lose. I’m literally making my popcorn right now. Can we adapt?


Hippos are in fact listed as 'VULNERABLE' on the IUCN's list. 

Thanks for reading!



Disclosure: Images made using stock or creative commons files.

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