As if the torrential downpour and dozens of lost lives weren’t enough, South Carolina residents are now dealing with another potential threat on the heels of Hurricane Joaquin.
According to Tech Insider, state officials have been warning citizens about exotic wildlife that has been displaced to local communities after massive flooding disrupted the ecosystem.
Residents are being warned to stay alert for a host of dangerous animals that could have made their way to suburban areas from nearby swamps, including alligators and snakes. Officials say they could be lurking in the deep flood waters that have been collecting for days.
South Carolinians are used to seeing an eclectic assortment of animals throughout the state, but the recent storm has brought them a little too close for comfort. There are various wildlife preserves located near Bluffton, SC with rare species like the tree frog, but nothing that carries the same level of threat as an alligator.
Abby Lawson, a graduate student studying alligator population ecology at Clemson University, agreed with state officials sending out the warning, confirming her neighbors’ fears.
“Given this neighborhood’s close proximity to the Ashley River, which is well within the alligator’s South Carolina distribution, it is certainly possible for an alligator to swim into an adjacent neighborhood, especially if high water levels from a hurricane or tropical depression allowed for easier access,” Lawson said.
According to The Post and Courier, alligators and snakes aren’t the only critters that South Carolina residents have to worry about.
The Charleston County Mosquito Control Lab says that mosquitoes continue to hatch all over the state in the aftermath of the storm as the weather hasn’t cooled down enough yet to ward them off.
Mosquito control teams have been scouring areas with the most flooding to subdue the swarming. The Mosquito Control Lab has asked all residents to dump any standing water that they can.
While the insects and animals are causing widespread panic, wildlife ecologist David Steen is putting a positive spin on the infestation to ease the minds of locals.
“Snakes (along with everything else) are likely to be influenced by the flooding and you may see more of them now,” Steen said. “They’ve always been around though. Again, don’t touch them.”
So, if you’re worried about snakes and alligators lurking outside your home, don’t fret. According to the experts, they were there before the storm, and they will be there long after. Just don’t try to pet them.