Florida has long been accustomed to media fascination with its schemes and scoundrels. The New Yorker, only a few weeks ago, sent in war correspondent George Packer to dissect the Ponzi scheme of perpetual real estate sales upon which the state has based its economics. And which is lately in the throes of a horrible bust.
But we’re getting attention too for our natural weirdness. Though even nature, in Florida, has gone kookie, downright unnatural.
My latest copy of the New Yorker features this startling paragraph:
Florida now has more exotic lizard species than there are natives in the entire Southeast. On a single tree you could conceivably find plants and animals from six continents, including parrots from South America, mynah birds and Old World climbing ferns from Asia, vervet monkeys from Africa, ladybird beetles from Australia, and feral cats from Europe, via African and Asia. In some case, the recent immigrants would be more genetically diverse than their cousins back home. The state’s ecology is a kind of urban legend come true – the old alligator-flushed-down-the-toliet story repleated a thousand times with a thousand species.”
The two species the New Yorker writer Burkhard Bilger finds most interesting are the Burmese Python and the Nile Monitor, popular pets that are breeding and thriving and spreading in South Florida to an alarming degree.
Then, Sunday’s New York Times features a Florida Panhandle version of discarded-pets-go-berserk. The opening paragraph of an article datelined Okaloosa Island:
What is it about Florida that inspires pet owners to set their captives free?
Green iguanas released decades ago now splash in the pools of Palm Beach. Peacocks run free in parts of Miami, Burmese Pythons are spreading through the entire state — and here, on this two-mile shoelace of beachfront land, the bunny problem keeps multiplying.
Dozens of rabbits, the spawn of Easter gifts from as far back as 2002, now run wild in a field of two-story condominiums.
The New Yorker link:
The New York Times link: