A rare American crocodile has shown up in a St. Petersburg neighborhood (photo courtesy Shondra Farner)
MIAMI, FL (CBSMiami/AP) - Once considered a dying breed, American crocodile populations are making a comeback in our area.
The population has multiplied nearly 10-fold since the 1970s. Today, there are more than 1,500 American crocodiles in South Florida.
As their numbers grow, however, so do encounters with people and pets. Last year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission fielded 106 "nuisance" croc calls.
University of Florida professor Frank Mazzotti says the crocs are reoccupying territory they retreated from as their population dwindled because of hide hunters and coastal development.
The American crocodile is often confused with its plentiful cousin, the alligator. Alligators are black and have broad, rounded snouts and are found throughout the deep South. Crocodiles are grayish, have narrow tapered snouts and their only U.S. habitat is in South Florida.