Illegal Aliens

Florida Lizards Much Prefer
Californians (Roaches, That Is)

Smuggling is one of the oldest forms of illegal trading. Since immemorial times people have been risking their lives and fortunes to transport from one place to another, precious stones, valuable metals, exotic animals, even humans.
As with any other market, demand is what drives traffic and it’s virtually impossible to list all categories of goods that have ever been apprehended by the customs agencies and border patrols of the world.
One thing remains constant, though: the market thrives wherever there are shortages of such goods. It’s what makes them profitable. But tell that to one Derek Rader (his real name), who was busted trying to smuggle California cockroaches to… Florida.
Now do you know how many roaches scurry per square feet in Florida? Neither do we, but it’s certainly a lot, right? Not enough for discriminating tastes of those who consume them, apparently. Rader and the state’s reptile population know well that.
Dubia roaches – who knows why they call them by a similar name tabloids used to call George Bush? – are two inches in size, have more meat than crickets, and once bred properly, you’ll never buy another one again, if that’s your thing. That’s the upside.
But since they’re non native to Florida and have no natural predators, their breeding with the state’s own species would mean a population explosion. A perfect crawling storm, if you would.
So Florida’s pest control agencies are always on the lookout to prevent what happened, for example, with the giant boa constrictors that began appearing in the Everglades during the 1990s.
Not exactly smuggled, for wild life officials believe that many of them were pets discarded by their inconsiderate owners, they’re now a source of permanent concerns.
They have spread throughout the state and their encounters with native species have been disastrous. A few years ago, an infamous picture made the Internet rounds: a boa which literally exploded after swallowing a huge crocodile.
Who knows what kind of hybrid would be generated by the combination of native and non native species, in the hot and humid climate of Florida. But whatever it’d be, nobody wants it. Except for Rader, who’s only in it to make a (dishonest) buck.
But one does get tickled to come up with a tabloid-style headline to illustrate it all. “Rader Roach Motel?” “Roach Rader Loses License?” or “Illegal Roach Motel Raided.” We could never match those headline editors. But nobody wants another breed of cockroaches crawling in their backyard either.

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