Thursday, October 6, 2011

Top 5 Most Unlikely State Animals

A more lighthearted post today. You've seen the state birds, state flowers, etc. Well, here's a list of the Top 5 Most Unlikely State Animals. Now, before you run out and get one of each of these for a pet, you might want to read further.

5. State Rodent
The word "Rat" immediately evokes images of the all-too-prevalent Black and Brown rats known for carrying diseases and/or living in sewers. Well, in Florida the Key Largo Woodrat is actually on the endangered species list (Florida Nature). This little guy is actually kinda cute and probably the least irritating of all the animals on this list. It's just odd to think of a "Rat" being "protected". A "State Rat" would be even more interesting.
Key Largo Woodrat (photo from Florida Nature)
4. Sate Blood-Sucking Parasite/Insect
No, I'm not talking about your annoying coworker, neighbor or politician that you love to hate. Think more along the lines of garden variety disease-carrying, stinging mosquitoes. Only, ones that you can't easily see, commonly called No-see-ums. After all, if you could easily see them, you might be able to avoid them.

Technically they are called biting midges, which like mosquitoes thrive in standing water, such as the floodwater habitats found across the state of Florida. They "can be a nuisance to campers, fishermen, hunters, hikers, gardeners, and others who spend time outdoors" (University of Florida - IAFS) What, you came to Florida and want to stay outside? Oh, and to avoid being "bitten", wear clothing that covers you as fully as possible. Sure, just what you came to Florida for. So, the winner here is:
No-see-um (aka Biting Midge - photo from University of Florida - IAFS)
3. State Predatory Marine Life
The description, "Predatory Marine Life" is probably enough of an explanation. But, it's hard to choose between a Bull Shark or a Tiger Shark. The description at National Geographic is "Bull sharks are aggressive, common, and usually live near high-population areas like tropical shorelines." Aggressive and common? Near high-population areas? What better combination could you ask for when it comes to predatory marine life? Tiger Sharks just aren't common enough. So, the clear winner in this category is:
Bull Shark (photo from National Geographic)
2. State Venomous Snake
When you think of venomous snakes in Florida, it's common to picture the Eastern Coral Snake. However, while it has a dangerous neurotoxin, "they must literally chew on their victim to inject their venom fully, so most bites to humans don't result in death." (National Geographic) I think we can do better than a snake that has to lay there chewing on you to be dangerous for this list.

The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, is "the largest venomous snake in North America." (National Geographic) Now that's more like it. And. it's "[often] considered the most venomous species in North America. Surprisingly, juveniles are considered more dangerous than adults, due to their inability to control the amount of venom injected." (Listverse - most venomous snakes) Enough said. The clear winner in this category is:
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (photo from Listverse - most venomous snakes))
1. State Invasive Species
Many would nominate the Iguana that can be found all over parts of Florida. The ecological impact of the Iguana is still being determined. These guys are everywhere. A couple of years ago, they were literally falling out of the trees during a cold spell. But, are they such a problem that people are recommending eating them? I don't think so.

Now Lionfish are becoming such a problem that people really are recommending eating them. Despite the fact that they have venomous spines! REEF even released a The Lionfish Cookbook. Don't worry, it comes with instructions for safely removing the spines. Also, "the Key Largo Conch House now serves lionfish tacos for lunch and plans to introduce them as daily dinner special. Key Largo’s Fish House Encore serves fried whole lionfish as an appetizer, preparing the filets in a variety of ways." (Florida Rambler) So, go eat some Lionfish. Seriously. Clearly, the winner here is:
Lionfish (photo from REEF)
So, that's my list of the Top 5 Most Unlikely State Animals. Hope you enjoyed it. Again, this post was meant to be a bit more lighthearted. But, seriously, go eat some Lionfish. I'll admit I also have a more Keys-oriented view of Florida. As always, feedback welcome.

Jason Nocks

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