Florida's Rangers Battle Invasion of the Giant Pythons - Paw Talk - Pet Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-02-2007, 02:25 PM Thread Starter
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Florida's Rangers Battle Invasion of the Giant Pythons

Florida's Rangers Battle Invasion of the Giant Pythons

The Everglades stretch for hundreds of swampy miles across south Florida, home to hordes of snakes, alligators and assorted creepy-crawlies. But now an invasion by deadly giant pythons is threatening the eco-system of the famous park.

The pythons, thought to have been released into the wild by careless pet owners, are no ordinary snakes. They are Burmese pythons, native to South Asia, which can grow 6m long, weigh 100kg and live for 20 years or more.

The pythons have established breeding pairs in the swamps and are racing to the top of the food chain, even ousting alligators that were the Everglades' top predator. Two years ago a photographer snapped a picture that appeared to show a python so big it had eaten an alligator whole.

'It is a very serious issue, especially as we have found breeding pairs and clutches of eggs. That means they have adapted to living here and they are having a big impact,' said Linda Friar, an official at Everglades National Park. The snakes are a serious threat to indigenous wildlife due to their big appetites. The stomach contents of every python caught by rangers usually reveals a feast of rare birds and small mammals. Sometimes it also shows that the snakes have been snacking on household pets.

The park has embarked on a major effort to curb the snakes' numbers, but total eradication would be difficult. 'We think we can slow down their rate of increase,' said Friar. At the moment there are an estimated 350 pythons in the park, but many more in the swamps outside. Rangers estimate that, for every python they spot, 10 lie hidden in the marshes.

Park rangers, in their efforts to catch the elusive snakes, have a specially trained sniffer dog - nicknamed 'Python Pete'. They have also used so-called 'Judas animals' by tagging female pythons with electronic signalling devices. The females then lead rangers to populations of male pythons, which the rangers can kill.

Although some of the snakes may have escaped into the wild in the aftermath of the hurricanes that regularly damage large swaths of Florida, most are thought to be simply released by owners who did not bargain on their baby pythons growing to be quite so big.

As a result, Florida is now embarking on a legal crackdown on its citizens owning exotic snakes. A new law will force owners of pythons and other snakes such as anacondas to get a special licence and insert an identifying microchip under the snake's skin. Inspectors will visit owners' houses to ensure they are suitable for a snake throughout its life. 'They will take the Everglades over if we don't do something about it,' said Bill Posey, the state senator who sponsored the new legislation.

A whole host of other exotic pets have escaped into the Florida wilderness, such as feral goats, iguanas, walking catfish and coyotes.

However, the biggest menaces from so-called 'invasive species' do not have four legs or slither: plants from suburban gardens are busy supplanting native species. An estimated two million acres of the swamp are now covered by invading plants. 'They don't create quite the same headlines as pythons, but plants are the invaders who actually make up the biggest threat,' said Friar.

By Guardian Unlimited © Copyright Guardian Newspapers 2006
Published: 7/29/2007

Florida's Rangers Battle Invasion of the Giant Pythons

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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-02-2007, 03:18 PM
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-02-2007, 08:41 PM
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im glad that finally people are cracking down on those people that release pets when they're 'done' with them, i really hate those people

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-02-2007, 09:01 PM
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i guess he bit of more than he could chew lol

I have a corn snake
I dont think he would ever be a problem to any one
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-19-2007, 08:28 AM
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that's crazy! usually pythons make sure their prey is dead before they eat it.
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