Monday, February 23, 2009

Animal Magnetism: American Crocodiles Looking for Love

ortuitously, the American crocodile has increased its numbers, to the point that folks are having more numerous encounters with them. In order to avoid any problems, the "nuisance" crocs are relocated, there in lies the problem...

FWC Biologists Use Magnets to Keep Nuisance Crocodiles Away

February 23, 2009
Contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro, 772-215-9459

Magnets usually attract, but the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) want magnets to do just the opposite. FWC biologists are studying if magnets can keep state-endangered American crocodiles from returning to situations where they are not welcome, primarily in neighborhoods in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Crocodile-human interactions have increased as the crocodile population has recovered. One technique to resolve these conflicts is translocation. This involves capturing the crocodile and moving it to suitable crocodile habitat as far away as possible, in an attempt to keep it away from an area. However, translocation is seldom effective. FWC biologists have found that translocated crocodiles will travel an average of 10 miles per week to return to their capture site, in a practice called "homing." Others never make it because they are hit and killed by vehicles as they cross roads. Some may be killed by other crocodiles at the release site or during their journey back.

In an effort to break the "homing" cycle, FWC biologists have initiated a new study. Crocodile agents have been instructed to attach magnets to both sides of the crocodile's head at the capture site. It is hoped the magnets will disorient the crocodiles and disrupt their navigation, so they can't find their way back to the capture site. The magnets are removed from the crocodile's head upon release. Agents will also secure a colored tag to the crocodile's tail, so returning crocodiles can be identified later.

"Scientists in Mexico have reported success in using magnets to break the homing cycle," said Lindsey Hord, FWC crocodile response coordinator. "The results of the study are promising. If it proves successful here, we could gain an effective technique to resolve crocodile-human conflicts."

If a nuisance crocodile continues to return to the capture site, or its behavior presents an unacceptable risk to people, under certain circumstances, it could be removed from the wild and placed into captivity.

You should never approach a crocodile, and if you see one that concerns you, call the FWC's Statewide Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286) to report the animal.

To learn more about the American crocodile in Florida visit

Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...


Deer Passion said...

How interesting... I'll be curious to see how effective the results are.

Native said...

As a Florida Cracker I have seen some strange things over the years there such as, a little pond on a cattle ranch filled with Piranha!
Large snakes which I believed to have been Anaconda, and those Gar-fish are about as prehistoric looking as you can get.

The one critter which I never had the chance to view in the wild were the Florida Croc!

Would you happen to have a picture of one?
I hadn't heard of the magnet story either, fascinating!

Albert A Rasch said...


I'll see what I can dig up, Shouldn't be a problem!