A huge population of pythons appears to be wiping a large number of opossums, bobcats, raccoons, and other mammals in the Everglades. Many of these pythons were once pets but when they got too big, the owners turned them loose in the Everglades. On Monday a study was published that stated that the sightings of medium-size mammals have decreased in the area where people have seen a large number of non-active constrictor snakes and pythons lurking. These pythons are capable of upsetting the Everglade’s environmental balance and disrupt the food chain in ways that will be hard to predict.
At this time there is thought to be many thousands of Burmese pythons living in the Everglades. This type of python is native to Southeast Asia and thrives in the warm, humid climate. Although many of these pythons may have been released by their owners, they feel that some of them escaped from pet shops in 1992 during Hurricane Andrew and since then have been reproducing.
A Burmese python can grow to weight more than two hundred pounds and reach lengths of at least twenty-six feet. Constrictor snakes, which are what Burmese pythons are, kill their prey by coiling their bodies around it and suffocating the prey. They have been known to swallow animals as big as an alligator. At this time one thousand eight hundred twenty-five pythons have been caught since 2000. The largest one caught earlier this month was sixteen point four feet long and weighed one hundred fifty-six pounds.
In 2010 there was a ban put into place that banned the ownership of Burmese pythons and earlier this month this ban was extended to include three other snakes.