Florida's Freakiest Animals: An Expert Guide, According to Author Michael Largo

Categories: Culture

via Wikimedia Commons
It's a jungle out there in South Florida. No, really -- this is the tropics. From scorpions and parrots to alligators and iguanas, we share our state with a plethora of critters, some super cuddly, others deceptively deadly.

Miami author Michael Largo knows all about the beasties. He's been collecting data on animals for decades, and his new book, The Big, Bad Book of Beasts: The World's Most Curious Creatures delves into truth and lore about our furry friends.

We spoke to Largo on South Florida's baddest beasts and creepiest crawlies. So if you ever wondered whether cockroaches really are indestructible, why mosquitoes eat you alive, and how often alligators eat people, stay tuned after the jump.

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10. There are giant Burmese pythons in the Everglades. But not as many as we thought.
"They had a hunch, they thought there were a lot of Burmese pythons. They had a hunt in the midst of these guys and they only caught 50," says Largo. "They think the number is only around 200, but with something that can grow to 26 feet long, it's a concern."

gators in pool.jpg
via Bay News 9
9. Alligators aren't into eating people.
Since 1948, there have only been 337 alligator attacks, and 13 fatalities. "You get more dog bites than alligator attacks," Largo says. And let's face it, there aren't even too many of those. People are way more deadly than any animal, anyway.

8. Our most dangerous local animal is ... wait for it ... the jellyfish.
"People die from the allergic reaction from jellyfish more than alligators," Largo says. So yeah, you should be more afraid of a spineless amoeba than a razor-toothed predator. Common sense be damned!

7. We've got lots of poisonous insects all around us, and there's no way to avoid them.
"We've got scorpions, black widows, brown widows, we also have fire ants, velvet ants, wheelbugs -- we also have like about 10 varieties of stinging caterpillars," Largo says. So even your friendly neighborhood caterpillar ain't necessarily so friendly. That's the price we pay for living in the tropics.

6. There's a species of jellyfish that's immortal.
"Jellyfish start as polyps; basically they start as a plant. They have a stem, their head that we see is actually reverting so their tentacles become like these branches of this plant that they anchor to the bottom floor. They develop into full grown jellyfish and disperse, but there's one species where its cells actually revert. They change back to the polyp stage so it returns to being a plant-like creature again and never dies." Can't we bottle that?

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Jennifer Flowers
Jennifer Flowers

I thought that was a baguette baked in the shape of a python

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