Burmese Pythons Invading Florida, Eating Mammals to Extinction
Can a Python eat an Alligator? A recent study by the National Park Service shows that Burmese Pythons that have been discarded by their owners in and around the Florida Everglades are eating the mammals in the area to extinction, from raccoons to alligators.
A study by the National Park Service in Southern Florida, especially in the Everglades, shows that small mammal species have declined as much as 99% due to an enlarged number of Burmese Pythons. Since 2003, Raccoons have declined 99.3%, opossums have declined 98.9%, white-tailed deer have 94.1% and bobcats have declined 87.5%.
What Causes Burmese Python Invasions in Everglades of Florida?
Although there have been many other python invasions in the past, this one is the first to actually impact on animal populations. The number one cause for Burmese Python invasions is python owners decide they can no longer take care of there slithery pets and dumb in the Everglades areas. In turn, the pythons reproduce in the wild and eat their prey - mammals, of pretty much any size.
There are several kinds of Burmese Pythons in the Everglades area. One of the most common types of pythons are the Reticulate Python and Albino Burmese, a tie-dye white and yellow python. Other snakes in the area, although not as common, include common boas and green anacondas.
We can't blame all the rednecks in Southern Florida for the release of these tens of thousands of pythons. Some scientists believe that Hurricane Andrew, back in 1992, may be a factor as well. Pythons escaped from humane societies and animals shelters during the hurricane and have been reproducing ever since.
How to Stop a Burmese Python Invasion in Florida
Let me make it simple: Don't buy a snake that can eat you in one bite. Pythons are the T. Rex of snakes, and will eat anything. Burmese Pythons aren't native to the Everglades, so the prey in the area don't know how to avoid the snakes, making it easier for the snakes to hunt the mammals in the area. In fact, scientists such as Michael Dorcas of Davidson College in North Carolina fear that the mass amount of Burmese Pythons in the Everglades is going to disrupt the natural food chain.
Despite the number of pythons and the fact they are so large, they are still extremely difficult to catch. For one, they blend in with the surroundings in the Everglades, and the amount of space in southern Florida that they range is very large.
Burmese Pythons Versus Alligators in the Florida Everglades: Fair Battle or Mismatch?
Alligators in the Florida Everglades are the most dangerous predator to other mammals in the area. But how does the alligator stand up to the python? It's a battle between good and evil, really - the natural, native species and an exotic invader. Although Pythons are very capable of swallowing alligators whole, some of them burst from the size of the Everglades' alligators. Pythons have another advantage over the alligators: They can find food both on and off land a lot easier and faster than the native alligators.
In 2010, Florida banned the ownership of Burmese Pythons, and earlier this month U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar banned the importation of Burmese Pythons and three other snakes, and the extinction of Florida's natural species are a prime example of why the ban is needed.