THERE A PYTHON IN YOUR FUTURE?
have recently received the following questions about pythons.
Is it true that the state of Florida is hiring snake hunters to kill
pythons in the Everglades? Havent they already done this and found
that it was not an effective method for removing this invasive species
from southern Florida?
A draft report (Python Pilot Program Updates) from the South
Florida Water Management District summarizes python captures so far
for 2017 and recommends continuing a program that hires snake hunters
at minimum wage to find the snakes. A bounty for each individual killed
is based on the snakes length. The bigger the snake, the higher
the amount. Floridas hired hunters will begin their quest June
of such hunts, even by experienced snake wranglers, is equivocal at
best and an abject failure at worst. The programs success, however,
is measured not in number of kills but in increased public awareness
about these gigantic, nonnative snakes that now thrive in southern Florida
and consume startling numbers of native wildlife. In terms of controlling
the increase in python numbers and their persistence, the statistics
are not encouraging. For example, the previous cadre of snake hunters
eliminated only 158 pythons from March through May. The majority were
7 to 10 feet long, with the largest being 16 feet.
estimates more than 100,000 pythons live in the Everglades and other
areas of southern Florida. Removing a few hundred a year will never
take care of the problem. And considering that a female can lay up to
80 eggs in a clutch annually ... well, you do the math. You dont
need a calculator to figure out that the odds are heavily in favor of
being caught and killed in southern Florida are near roads and other
access points that snake collectors can get to readily. In addition,
a snake is more obvious on pavement than in vegetation. In natural areas,
the pythons cryptic body patterns and ability to go underwater
make them almost impossible to find. Even experienced snake collectors
cannot catch what they cannot see. When you consider that Everglades
National Park is 1.5 million acres with few roads, the odds in favor
of the pythons increase dramatically.
I heard that pythons were originally brought in as pets by Vietnam vets.
Is that an urban myth?
Some may have come back with veterans, but the primary source was and
still is the pet trade.
Do you think most of the pythons in Florida are former pets or did they
escape during Hurricane Andrew. Or was it both?
Both. However, research findings indicate they were present in the wild
in Florida at least by the 1980s, well before Hurricane Andrew. Additional
individuals may have escaped during Andrew, but the snakes were likely
already well established before then, just in lower densities.
Is the invasive Burmese python in Florida taxonomically a subspecies
or is it now listed as a species?
Some authorities consider it a subspecies of Python molurus from
Southeast Asia; others consider it a distinct species, Python bivittatus.
Ecologically and behaviorally it does not matter, because by either
name it is an enormous snake that has found a home in southern Florida.
Are pythons likely to continue moving up the Florida peninsula? What
are the chances that they could make their way into Alabama, Georgia
and South Carolina?
Pythons could be in any state as the result of random releases and could
survive and reproduce in many of them. Whether enough snakes would be
around to find each other and mate is unlikely in most situations. However,
a recent and sobering observation suggests that some females can be
parthenogenic, which means they can reproduce without a male. The pythons
odds just keeping getting better.
time to accept that the Burmese python has become permanently established
in North America.
you have an environmental question or comment, email