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Two Invasive Reptile Species Cohabitate in an Active Nest of the Endangered Key Largo Woodrat (Neotoma floridana smalli)

Katherine C. King1,*, Matthew Willson1, Jeremy Dixon1, and Michael V. Cove2

1Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, USFWS, 10750 County Road 905, Key Largo, FL 33037. 2North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, 11 W Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601. *Corresponding author.

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 21, Issue 2 (2022): N32–N36

Florida is renowned for its non-native reptile communities, with 2 such pervasive non-native species including the apex predator Python bivittatus (Burmese Python) and the herbivorous Iguana iguana (Green Iguana) that showcase the spectrum of their ecological impacts. Both species have recently expanded into the Florida Keys. We used a camera trap to survey a radio-tagged Burmese Python and documented both non-native reptiles cohabitating in the active, natural stick-nest of an endangered rodent, Neotoma floridana smalli (Key Largo Woodrat), in Dagny Johnson Botanical State Park, Key Largo, FL. An additional nest visitor included Peromyscus gossypinus allapaticola (Key Largo Cotton Mouse), another endangered rodent and potential prey for the python. Camera placement allowed us to detect both rodents on the exterior of the stick-nest. The presence of the Key Largo Woodrat and Key Largo Cotton Mouse at the nest warrant continued monitoring of the 2 reptile species and their interactions with the endangered small mammals as their presence becomes more common in the Florida Keys.

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