May 13 – Land Snakes!

Today’s Factismal: As of December 2013, more than 2,000 burmese pythons had been captured in the Everglades.

Burmese pythons are the goldfish of the reptile world. Like goldfish, many people buy them when they are cute and little. The people play with the pythons until they (the people, not the pythons) realize that about all that a burmese python does is lie around, eat, and poop. Then, once they (the people again) get tired of their pets, they put them (the pythons) into the nearest swamp “because that’s where they (the pythons again) belong”.

An amelanistic burmese python; these are very popular thanks to their coloring (My camera)

An amelanistic burmese python; these are very popular thanks to their coloring
(My camera)

But, like the goldfish that have become invasive species from Ontario to Tahoe and points in between, the burmese pythons have started to take over parts of the Atchafalaya and Everglades. And like the goldfish, burmese pythons breed rapidly and eat native species. However, unlike the goldfish, burmese pythons aren’t very tasty or very easy to catch.

Pets like these have been released into the wild by well-meaning but misguided individuals (My camera)

Pets like these have been released into the wild by well-meaning but misguided individuals
(My camera)

They aren’t very tasty because burmese pythons feed on just about anything that they can get into their gullet, from crocodile eggs to crocodiles to rats to rabbits to birds. And they aren’t very easy to catch because burmese pythons can grow up to fifteen feet long and weigh as much as 100 lbs! Add in the fact that they are constrictors that wrap around their prey, and you’ve got a real fight on your hands if you want to capture one!

A burmese python playing with its food (Image courtesy Nature.org)

A burmese python playing with its food
(Image courtesy Nature.org)

In a nice, warm environment like the Everglades, a burmese python can lay upwards of 36 eggs each year. Given a plentiful food supply, like that found in the Everglades, and a lack of natural predators, and you’ve got the perfect condition for an invasive species explosion. And that’s what we’re seeing in Florida right now. In just six years, conservationists have removed more than 2,000 burmese pythons from the Everglades – and have probably missed ten times as many.

If you’d like to help them round up the rest of these rascals and transplant them into loving homes and zoos, then why not join the Introduced Reptile Early Detection and Documentation program?
http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/reddy.shtml

2 thoughts on “May 13 – Land Snakes!

  1. Pingback: June 3 – My Space Invaders – Little facts about science

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