Invasive Burmese pythons are swimming to the Florida Keys, and The Nature Conservancy is trying to stop them.
Why, you might ask? And how do you stop a 13-foot-long former pet with a voracious appetite?
Luckily, the snakes haven’t been known to attack humans. But they will try to eat just about anything in their path:
“We already know these pythons are eating some of the many endangered and rare species we have here in the Keys,” says the Conservancy’s Florida Keys conservation manager Alison Higgins.
And the problem could get worse. If the Burmese pythons aren’t removed, they could easily spread throughout the entire southern part of the United States and head north.
So, the Conservancy has trained a team of volunteers — called the “Python Patrol” — to capture the snakes.
“We ask the responders to consider safety first and then work to tire out the snake before they capture it. Luckily these pythons tire very quickly,” says Higgins.
Snake capture techniques include “treadmilling,” where the person rubs their hands one after the other along the snake’s underbelly, to make it think it’s getting away.
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(Image: A Burmese python and an alligator duke it out in Florida. Source: Lori Oberhofer, National Park Service.)