Burmese pythons may not be native to the Sunshine State, but they are dominating the ecosystem in a major way — killing off many of its smaller predatory species.
Burmese pythons are the third-largest snakes in the world and can grow to more than twenty feet in length. These semi-aquatic animals are native to tropical expanses of Southern and Southeast Asia and reside primarily in the trees and underbrush of areas near water. These powerful animals kill by striking and coiling their bodies around prey, essentially constricting them to suffocation.
The python’s attractive colors and usual docility towards humans have attributed to their popularity as pets. Many people underestimate the size and rigorous demands of these creatures, however, resulting in their eventual release back into the wild.
Since the 20th century, Burmese pythons have been considered an invasive species in South Florida due to their negative impacts on the surrounding ecosystem. Events of pythons eliminating prevalent native species have been well-documented across the state. Fox and rabbit populations are disappearing in high snake concentration areas and even larger animals, including alligators, have fallen prey to these dominating reptiles.
Earlier this week, a python in the Everglades was filmed striking and constricting a Florida alligator to death.
This was not the first incident of this magnitude, either. Back in 2006, a 13ft python was reported to have bursted after attempting to consume a six-foot long American alligator. The python’s gut was found busted open with the rear end of the alligator hanging halfway out of its body.
Efforts to reduce the proliferating Burmese python population have been undertaken, including trapping and biocontrol, but are thus far ineffective due to the animal’s elusive nature and high reproductivity rate.