Capturing Florida's Burmese Pythons

Jan 30, 2017 By James H, Young Editor
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Florida’s Everglades are a swampland full of wildlife! Many creatures call this place their home. From the white ibis to the white-tailed deer to the Florida panther, all are part of a unique and diverse wetland ecosystem.

Unfortunately, the habitat of these animals are disappearing mainly because of human interference, especially the draining of the Everglades swamps. Seventy-three species of organisms are threatened and endangered.

However, a decade ago, something else was found to hurt the ecosystem - Burmese pythons!

An Invasive Species

Native to Southeast Asia, the Burmese pythons are snacking at an alarming rate on many native animals that live in the Everglades. To stop this, the state of Florida has sought help from snake hunters from India.

But why bother to hunt these snakes? Because these Burmese snakes are an invasive species.

An invasive species is a non-native or alien species that is introduced to an environment. This species is not a part of the normal ecosystem. Since the invasive species does not have any natural predators, it can prey on native species easily. This makes them incredibly dangerous to the health of the ecosystem. Some invasive species include the cane toad in Australia, stoats in New Zealand, and the Burmese pythons in the Everglades.

In this case, the Burmese pythons were probably introduced in the 1980s when some people who had the snakes as pets decided to release them. These pythons, which can grow up to 20 feet long, consume all kinds of animals -- from rodents to deer and even alligators!

Stopping The Pythons

Since 2002, park authorities have removed nearly 2000 pythons. Experts also worry about the problem of hybrid super snakes because of the mating of Burmese and African pythons. These could turn out to be hardier, more vicious and more powerful.

Fortunately for the Everglades species, something is being done to take care of this issue. Two experienced snake hunters from the Irula tribe in India were hired to catch snakes as quickly as possible. In fact, with the help of detection dogs to track the snakes, they caught thirteen pythons in two weeks!

Let’s hope that they do catch the 5000 to 10000 snakes remaining!