Stopping the Burmese Python Invasion in Florida

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Published on February 18th, 2009  |  Discuss This Article  

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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.

Want to learn more? Read the full story here.

(Image: A Burmese python and an alligator duke it out in Florida. Source: Lori Oberhofer, National Park Service.)

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Comments: Stopping the Burmese Python Invasion in Florida

  •  Comment from B. Durant

    It should be pointed out that when you say “head north” in regards to the Burmese python’s spread it isn’t going to get very far. The climate is simply too cold.

    I wonder at this point how many of these snakes are actually former pets and how many are the result of natural mating. If they are indeed as prevalent as we’ve been told then I would expect nature to take its course.

  •  Comment from robert sobczak

    We have them here in Big Cypress National Preserve: up on the levees among other places. Great photo. It’s been a dry dry season down here, which makes me think that it might give them a little larger range of dry ground to slither through.

  •  Comment from L Ellison

    In response to B Durant, they are breeding in the Everglades and the potential expansion might be more than you imagine. Most likely they could survive as far north as DC. I would define that as pretty far.

  •  Comment from CorkyMoo

    There are a number of cases were Burmese pythons have attacked humans. One young fellow is now dead after being attacked. In the article it stated that it was a 11 ft. 100 lb. pet (term pet does not fit according to Webster). If these things will try to eat alligators there is no reason why they would not try to eat humans.

  •  Comment from Sell Snake Meat

    The natural habitat of pythons stretches all the way to washington D.C. and possibly higher. They can survive in cold weather. Better stop them now before it’s to late. Need to wipe them out.

  •  Comment from ratpacklasvegas

    If they can live as far north as Washington DC, why is it they cannot make it north to Orlando? It is too cold. Dont let the faulty science of the USGS, non fact based shows like Monster Quest and HSUS/PETA fill your head with this crap. This is all anti pet legislation propaganda. HSUS/PETA have to find something to do with the 200+ million dollars they bilk out of animal lovers, none of which goes to help animals. All large constrictors are ambush hunters. They wait until prey comes by and then strike. LARGE CONSTRICTORS DO NOT CHASE AND ATTACK. And just so you know, all pythons are old world species. There are no American pythons. Boas occure naturally in South and Central America. If they really could move as far north as you claim, they would have done it naturally already. They do not move north of Mexico because it is too cold.

  •  Comment from Garry Sipos

    All I’d like to know is if their is a bounty on the evasive reptiles and rodents? As I’m an avid hunter and am on 100% disabality. I’m a great shot, tracker and animal handler. I desire to move to Fl to assist in irradicating these species mentioned. I’d move to Fl. to help eradicate these Vermine.
    Though would I would need help with catching, killing and preserving these species.

  •  Comment from Donna

    Guess what WON’T have any impact on the Burmese population in Florida?

    Adding the pythons to the LACEY ACT.

    I loved the Nature Conservancy. They were my favorite environmental group, and the one that I advocated to everyone. I even donated money to them a few times.

    I’m so disappointed with their advocacy of these python Lacey Act additions…

    You knew that it would not benefit the environment to do this, but you pushed it anyhow. Shame on you. Shame on your for preventing military men from taking their pets with them when they are reassigned, and for destroying hundreds of small businesses, for no reason at all..for no benefit at all.

  •  Comment from Timothy Williams

    Have the pythons been spotted in Palm Beach County? There are lots of protected everglades in Palm Beach County. I want to volunteer to be a python patrol responder. As a teen my friends and I would catch snakes for the thrill of the hunt. Now as an adult I have become very protective of wildlife and the invasive species issue concerns me. The Loxahatchee wildlife refuge is one development away from being my backyard. I have a pick up truck and I want to get involved. Please let me know what steps I need to take to become a Python Patrol Responder.

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