6 Insane Species Infestations (Caused by Humans)
According to the infallible foresight of Gene Roddenberry, mankind is still at least a couple centuries away from figuring out that yanking a species out of its natural habitat and transplanting it somewhere else because, you know, we can isn't exactly the brightest idea. But it's a lesson that we probably should have learned long ago, based on the following ridiculous examples:
Florida Is Full of Giant Snakes That Dumbasses Bought as Pets
While most pet owners are content with a subtle, mostly concealed evil nature in their choice of furry companion (hi there, cat people!), others are only satisfied with the straight up Thulsa Doom in your living room provided by the Burmese python. From 1999 to 2004 alone, 144,000 of these slithery predators were imported to the U.S. and, drunk on the idea of having the badassest pet ever, droves of people brought home a "cute" inches-long baby, only to have it (unexpectedly?) mature into a 20-foot-long nightmare dweller.
"Lately I've been trying to branch out into dwelling in apocalyptic visions and bad peyote trips, too."
Because personal responsibility runs strong in the human race, they admitted that they could no longer properly care for these unwieldy serpents and somberly delivered them to animal sanctuaries. Oh, wait -- no. Actually, they just drove over to the nearest swamp, dumped the snake in some long grass, made an exaggerated hand-wiping gesture, and peeled away while listening to Dio at full crank.
They're smiling because the water disguises the fact that they just simultaneously peed themselves.
Today, an estimated 150,000 pythons inhabit the Florida Everglades. They've quickly become the dominant predator, horrifyingly slo-mo-swallowing everything from raccoons, rabbits, opossums, and deer to freaking bobcats and even alligators. The increase in Burmese python numbers and decrease in every-other-animal numbers has been a trend observed since the early 2000s, so the government promptly restricted the import of these snakes, right? Well, if you consider 2012 prompt, then yeah -- that's when the U.S. finally got around to saying, "Uh, guys? No more monster snakes, K?"
Question: What happens when a python swallows an alligator?
But should you, gentle Floridian, be afraid? The snakes may not have attacked anyone in the Everglades yet, but many people have been injured and killed by the Burmese pythons they kept as pets. And members of the current wild population have been known to spoil picnics, eat pets, and take a dip in backyard swimming pools. Just remember: The snakes that are currently loose in the wild are descendants of our former prisoners, and it's only a matter of time until their numbers grow large enough that they can storm your Miamis and your Tampas, using their bifurcated tongues to hiss something about exacting revenge in the name of their discarded forefathers.
Answer: It explodes, because reality can't contain that much shityourpantsness.
Nobody has made a horror movie about an attack by a massive herd of ravenous goats, but maybe they should. Get enough of them together, and all hell breaks loose ... even if it looks ridiculous:
The petting zoo is back for revenge.
The goatstravaganza you see up there is due to the fact that in the late 1950s, some fishermen released a few goats into the fragile ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands (aka "That Tortoise Place") so they'd have something to hunt and eat when fish were scarce. The goats, being goats, did what goats do ... which is apparently lots and lots of bonin'.
Without any natural predators on the islands, that handful of goats ballooned into tens of thousands of horned stomachs that swallowed up every single plant they encountered. Every single one. Tortoises lost the shade that forests provided; sundry species of birds and insects found themselves newly homeless; and without plant life to anchor them, the islands' steep volcanic slopes decided it just wasn't worth hanging on anymore.
Thankfully, they were too short to eat the island's atmosphere, but damned if they didn't try.
By 1997, the population of goats on Isabela, the largest of the islands, was greater than that of people by a good 5 to 1. Something clearly had to be done, and that something, of course, was to declare a full-on goat war.
Above: a still from the upcoming Battlefield: Capricide.
Along came Project Isabela, because calling it Project Full-On Goat War was evidently a bit too literal. Named after that ravaged goatopia of an island, the project consisted of a multi-agency group that implemented the "professional training of a team of highly skilled park wardens." If you were expecting to hear "assassins" instead of "park wardens" at the end of that sentence, well ... that's because that's pretty much what they were.
"Should I hide the body afterward?"
"No. I want to send a message to those bastards."
In a move straight out of some sort of goat-based sci-fi dystopia, these "park wardens" strapped radio collars onto the necks of sterilized "Judas" goats and released them into the wild. Wanting nothing more than to hang out with friends of the goatly variety, they quickly located and subsequently betrayed their wild brethren to the wardens' crosshairs. Then it was a simple matter of following the homing beacons in helicopters while armed with high-powered rifles and hunting down every last goddamned goat on the island.
The landscape of death that this murder squad left behind was the true horror of the situation -- since exporting the dead goats would remove valuable nutrients from the island's ecosystem, the tens of thousands of goat corpses were just left there to rot their way back into the soil. Picture that while listening to "Circle of Life," and you may never be able to watch The Lion King again.
But before we move on, allow us to also ruin sea lions for you. You're welcome.
Florida's Herpes-Ridden Monkeys
Long before Disney took to building secret underground tunnels and employing scent-based mind control, a tour operator by the name of Colonel Tooey in Florida's Silver River State Park had plans to build a Jungle Cruise attraction of his own, except with none of the animatronics and six times the actual, real-life monkeys. Taking inspiration from a Tarzan movie that had been filmed in the area, Tooey mail-ordered himself some rhesus monkeys (hey, this was the 1930s -- we weren't too far removed from being able to mail your freaking kids), which would serve as his main attraction.
Say what you will about their lifelikeness, at least animatronics don't masturbate in front of you.
To his credit, Tooey made a genuine attempt at preventing the monkeys from escaping into the wild by building an artificial island, complete with a little wooden house for the primates to live in and probably have tea parties while wearing cute little hats. Unfortunately, he overlooked one very crucial fact: Even 2-day-old rhesus monkeys can swim. When he introduced them to their new home, the six monkeys immediately pulled a Clint Eastwood -- i.e., escaped from Tooey's little Monkey Alcatraz and spent the next several decades vigorously humping.
And lo, they established a poo-flinging utopia. A pootopia, if you will.
OK, we know precisely what you're thinking: "There's a place in the U.S. where I can get my Mowgli on with actual monkeys and holy shit, why am I still reading this article instead of buying my plane ticket to Florida?" But before you pack your Sunday loincloth, you should know that rhesus monkeys have been known to act aggressively toward humans (doubly so when you grab their mouths and move their lips as you sing, "I wanna be like you-ou-ou"). And while a monkey attack might leave you with a badass scar and a truly boss story to tell your friends, it'll also likely leave you with something more -- because most of Florida's rhesus monkeys are carriers of the herpes B virus. In non-human primates, it amounts to nothing more than drawn-out excuses to the missus, but in primates of the human variety, it often leads to death by brain bulge.
If you're lucky enough to live in Florida, you might not even have to seek out these vagrant monkey tribes: In 2009, Cornelius the "Mystery Monkey" was cast out of his colony, leading to a few years of him repeatedly flipping animal control agents the double bird as he evaded capture. He was finally caught when he tipped the authorities off to his location by biting a 60-year-old woman outside her home. Thankfully, his herpes-filthy slobber didn't infect her -- otherwise, Cornelius might have lost one of his over 85,000 Facebook followers.
It was vanity captured the beast.
The Western World's Beautiful Giant Murder-Weeds
Giant hogweed is not a plant you want hanging around in your backyard garden because, despite what its name may imply, it in no way makes your yard smell like delicious bacon. Also, it's an invasive plant species, growing up to 20 feet tall, whose sap is basically herbology's answer to mustard gas.
Yeah, but can you smoke it?
Apparently that whole "sap straight out of Satan's anus" thing didn't faze the European and North American gardeners of the 19th and 20th centuries, who decided to import giant hogweed from Asia as a "botanical curiosity" because it looks like what you'd get if you blasted Queen Anne's lace with the radiation that created Godzilla. In no time flat, this kaiju-plant took over riverbanks, ditches, and roadsides, wrapping the native flora in an unrelenting choke hold. Its true terror, however, lay in what it can do to us non-plant-based life forms -- its aforementioned sap has the mutant ability to cause phytophotodermatitis, an extreme sensitivity to sunlight.
That means if it gets on your skin and then gets exposed to UV rays (which is pretty much a given, seeing as how it tends to grow, um, outside), it causes severe burns, lesions, and blisters that leave you with fat, purpley-black scars. Oh, and if you happen to get some of this biological napalm in your eyes? Why hello, permanent blindness, nice to make your acquaintance!
On the plus side, it also grants you +10 harmonica skill.
Still, we haven't gotten to the worst of giant hogweed's legacy: Inspired by the plant's rapid spread and nefarious nature, prog-rock icon Genesis released "The Return of the Giant Hogweed" in 1971. It's an eight-minute ode detailing the plant's eventual violent domination of Earth, with lyrics such as "Human bodies soon will know our anger. Kill them with your hogweed hairs!"
By two minutes in, you'll be either really into it (because you're high right now) or jumping at the chance to submit yourself to the torturous bidding of our new leafy overlords.
And giant hogweed isn't the only plant we've imported to gussy up our gardens that quickly turned murderous. The carrot's asshole cousin, poison hemlock, has spread throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South America, sneakily assassinating livestock and dim-witted humans alike when they stumble upon it in the wilderness and say, "Ooh, free carrots!" It just goes to show that even sticking "poison" right there in the name isn't enough to deter a determined enough gardener.
Tropical Islands' Mongoose Madness
For hundreds of years, the common rat has tagged along on boat trips with the likes of Christopher Columbus, invading new lands, crowding out or just plain eating native animals, and destroying valuable crops like sugar cane. (Also: Ew, rats.) In the 19th century, inhabitants of tropical islands like Puerto Rico, Fiji, and Hawaii decided they'd had their fill of these rat bastards, so, following the old-lady-who-swallowed-a-fly school of pest control, they introduced yet another non-native species to murderize them all: the small Indian mongoose.
Murder has never been more adorable.
They were half right about the mongoose's rat-eradicating abilities -- they made short work of the Asiatic rats, but totally slipped the European rats a Get Out of Annihilation Free card. The real harm, though, came when the mongoose turned out to be an even deadlier predator than the rat, directly responsible for the extinction of at least seven species of native birds, amphibians, and reptiles. In some cases, it's even managed to pick up the rats' slack: The Jamaican petrel was plentiful until the 19th century, because rats only ate their eggs. If a bird managed to hatch, it was safe, because rats are all honorable and shit. But then came the mongoose, who took one look at the lucky few adolescent birds who managed to hatch and said, "Fuck rules, baby birds are delicious." The Jamaican petrel is now critically endangered.
Meanwhile, the mongoose is whatever the exact opposite of endangered is.
In 2000, the small Indian mongoose was estimated to cause $50 million a year in damages in Puerto Rico and Hawaii. Efforts to eradicate them have amounted to basically fuck-all -- and experts aren't even sure that removing them will improve things. On the island of Mauritius, for example, the mongoose has entered into a Megazord-like arrangement with the rat and the feral cat to create a terrifyingly tooth-filled house of cards. Pull out the mongoose, and the other two will only become more powerful in their quest to pulverize the native species under their cute widdle paw pads.
Oh, and one more thing: After its introduction, the mongoose emerged on these islands as the major vector of both rabies and leptospirosis. What's leptospirosis, you ask? Just a bacterial disease that can lead to "kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death." Adorable!
On top of all that, they stare you straight in the eye as they overpopulate.
Argentina's Beavers Are Laying Waste to the Landscape
Ah, the majestic North American beaver ...
"Leave it to me!"
... adorner of Canadian coins, provider of genital euphemisms, ass-secreter of vanilla-scented deliciousness. But of all the wondrous things beavers have given us over the years, the most valuable throughout much of American history has been its pelt, because beaver hats. Back in the 1940s, Argentine President Jean Peron wanted to carve himself out a chunk of that pimp-ass hat trade, so his administration imported 20 beavers and released them into the South American forests of Tierra del Fuego. The idea was that the beavers would go forth and multiply, and trappers in turn would -- get this -- trap them, thereby creating a whole new industry in a region that was previously far too poor to even register on the beaver-trapping radar (if you catch our drift).
You know where this is going:
A violent confrontation with Ents?
The fur trade never took off, but boy, those beavers sure did. Today, over 100,000 of the little inbred, buck-toothed bastards infest the archipelago, laying waste to the Patagonian ecosystem. Unlike the trees of their homeland, which snap right back up and chant "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" after being gnawed to death by a beaver, their South American counterparts instead throw up their branches, say "Oh, fuck no," and never, ever grow back again. And those beaver dams we marvel at for their spectacular engineering? They flood the landscape, rotting tree roots and altering the watershed's carbon cycle, leaving behind literal Swamps of Sadness from The NeverEnding Story.
And now we're thinking about Artax. Back in 5; gotta go cry for a bit.
That's not an exaggeration: The beavers' new ponds result in mud, mud, and more mud, causing wandering livestock to become trapped and die slow, squishy deaths that would give our 10-year-old selves recurring nightmares. But wait, it gets worse -- farmers have reported stumbling upon sheep who couldn't escape and, immobile and defenseless, had their eyes pecked out by freaking birds.
Not since '70s porn has a bushy creature so tirelessly devoured so much wood.
Before what shall hereby be known as the Great Beaver Invasion, Patagonia had managed to remain relatively unchanged since the last ice age 10,000 years ago. But in a short 60 years, beavers have "re-engineered the ecosystem even more than humans have." So there you have it, folks: We humans can take some small comfort from the fact that we're not the only species capable of making Captain Planet cry. Except, you know, we're the ones who put the beavers there, so ...
Jordan Rudow woefully lacks anything worth promoting, so instead he would like to ask you to make an appointment to donate blood today.
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