Burmese pythons taking over the Everglades Karen Brown COW February 16, 2013 Tiffany Rodriguez Imagine taking a walk in the Florida Everglades. Now imagine that during that walk across a giant snake. In that snakes grip is a full-sized White-tailed you come deer. The two are battling it out, but the snake is clearly winning, it does not stand a chance against a full sized python. What could possibly be even worse than that would be a Burmese python battling an alligator and winning? It has happened even though the snake did not make it away from the fight.
It looks like something out of a horror film and it is happening more than people might think. This giant snake is known as the Burmese python. While Burmese pythons are originally from Southeast Asia they have slowly been taking over the Florida Everglades consuming the native animals and causing an invasion. The Florida Everglades are home to many types of reptiles due to its climate. The sub-tropical climate in Florida allows many types of reptiles to thrive. While most of those reptiles are native to Florida, some are not even from the United States. The Burmese python comes from Southeast Asia.
The snakes were imported to the United States to become pets. When the pythons would get so large the owners could not handle them anymore they are likely released into the wild. Burmese pythons can grow to be as long as 6 meters( 20 feet) and weigh as much as 90( bobs) keg (Ernst & Jug 1996). Due to the large size of the Burmese python they have no natural enemy in the Florida Everglades to contain them. Burmese pythons were first discovered in the Florida Everglades in 1979 and have been seen n many areas since then (Carla, Ray, Michael, & Frank, 2011).
Hurricane Andrew blew into Florida in 1992 ravaging South Florida and destroying many things, including pet stores. Not only were they released by owners that could not care for them, after Andrew there were an unknown amount of Burmese pythons that escaped into the wild. With South Florist’s mild temperatures and vast food supply the snakes have thrived and multiplied by the thousands. There is now an unknown amount of Burmese pythons in Florida but the estimates go from the SIS’S of thousands, to the hundreds of thousands. Because of the vast number of large snakes many other species of animals have become scarce.
Several species of animals in the Florida Everglades have seen a vast decline due American alligators (Alligator Mississippians) and a wide variety of avian and mammalian prey including wading birds, bobcat (Lynx Rufus), and white-tailed deer. They may negatively impact populations of native wildlife including several endangered or “at risk ‘species” Noon, Michael,& Raymond, 2011). Four species of bird that the Burmese python is found to consume are of special concern by the Florida Fish and wildlife conservation committee, and one bird is considered federally endangered.
According to Noon, Michael, & Raymond, 2011) “Approximately 25% of all pythons found in NP contain bird remains”. The birds are just a small part of the big picture that the snakes are affecting. Burmese pythons have been known to eat bobcats and American alligators. In the southern area of the park they have almost completely wiped out several species of mammals. Raccoons, opossums, rabbits, and bobcats have all declined in population by 87% or higher all he way up too 99% in due to being consumed by the snakes (Pythons devour everglades mammals, 2012).
Studies have shown that the longer the Burmese python is in an area the fewer mammals are in that area. Mammals that were common road kill in the Everglades National Park from 1993-1999 have shown a vast decrease in population. Some animals such as rabbits and raccoons have disappeared completely as road kill. Due to this stronger efforts have been put in place by the Everglades National Park and the Federal Wildlife reserve to help deal with the problem that has arisen. There are many different efforts in place to slow the population growth of the Burmese python.
Due to the overwhelming amount of the non-native pythons in the Everglades (which is expanding to the Florida Keys and beyond) there has been a ban on Burmese pythons and 3 other constrictor snakes. On January 17, 2012 the Federal Wildlife service declared a ban on overseas imports of the snakes as well as interstate imports. That meaner the snakes are now illegal to bring into the United States as well as Just transporting over state lines (BIG snakes, 2012). Although there s now a ban in place some feel that it is already too late to save the Florida Everglades.
According to Steven A. Williams, former director of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (PWS) warns that invasive species are “the number one environmental threat to the United States. “(BIG snakes, 2012) The federal government has spent billions of dollars trying to slow or stop the threat of invasive species. In January 2013 in an effort to curb the python problem Florida began it’s very first ever python hunt. Thousands of hopeful hunters have signed up for a month long halogen where prizes for the longest snake and others are up for grabs.
People from around the country have slithered their way to Florida in hopes of bagging a Burmese python or two. As of January 25th 2013 only 30 Burmese pythons have been captured and killed during the challenge (photographically. Org, 2013). After the contest was over the final count for the python hunt was 68 pythons captured and killed. The longest of which was 14 feet 3 inches long. While it may not seem like much, since female pythons can lay between 50 and 100 hundred eggs, there may be unto is to educate the general public as to the dangers the snakes play in the ecosystem of the Florida Everglades.
The more the public is informed about the dangers the snakes cause to the Everglades might help keep them from releasing more into the wild knowing the damage it can cause. Due to some careless pet owners and the wrath of Mother Nature an invasion was started that is almost unstoppable. While Burmese pythons are originally from Southeast Asia they have been slowly taking over the Florida Everglades consuming the native animals and causing an invasion. Animals from birds to alligators have become prey to this reptile due to it not having any natural predators.