Pool Party Crasher: American Crocodile
An Islamorada homeowner woke up Thursday morning to find an uninvited guest in the pool — an American crocodile.
The Lower Matecumbe resident called the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. Deputies called in the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission. Together, the law enforcement officers removed the croc, estimated to be about 8 feet long, and returned it to its natural habitat: saltwater.
The American crocodile is less numerous and less aggressive than its cousin, the alligator. Crocodiles prefer saltwater, while alligators live in freshwater. South Florida is the only place where the two species co-exist.
The American crocodile is federally listed as an endangered species though its population has recovered in Florida in recent years and its status was downgraded to threatened. Its range has expanded from the saltwater edges of the Everglades to include Broward and Collier counties, and even the Tortugas.
A few months ago, a crocodile was spotted sunning itself on Smathers Beach in Key West. And this isn't the only recent example of wildlife winding up in a swimming pool — earlier this month, a blacktip shark was found in a Palm Beach county condo pool. That case, authorities say, was likely a prank.