There is a dangerous epidemic unfolding in the massive Everglades near Miami and other parts of south Florida. Giant Burmese Pythons, which are released by their owners into the swamp are multiplying at an incredible pace. As part of the natural feeding process, they are coming close to eliminating many native animals and birds, and are responsible for the loss of pets, farm animals and even children. Be aware of these 20 foot long monsters.
Florida has its share of wildlife, including a great number of dangerous snakes that are native to the swamps and marshes of the state. Over the past few years, a new threat has been introduced that has the potential of doing great harm to the delicate ecological balance in place. This is not foolish hype. It is a clear and very present danger, especially in the Everglades near Miami, Fl, where they are often seen crossing major thoroughfares in populated areas.
That threat are the Burmese Pythons that are turning up with astounding regularity in south Florida. Most of these massive reptiles, some measuring 16-20 feet in length, are pet snakes that were released in the Everglades by their owners when the snakes reached adulthood. It has been estimated that there are over 200,000 Pythons in the Everglades, and the numbers are growing. The area is a perfect spot for these snakes to breed and prosper. They have no natural enemies to control them, and in fact, are wiping out many creatures once common to the southern parts of the state. The Gulf Coast as far north as Marco Island and Naples
Raccoons, squirrels, and opossums are disappearing in great numbers from the landscape, as are many birds, including threatened wood storks. Many of these species may become extinct in their former habitat. Even more startling are the actual cases of 80 pound deer. Incredible as it may seem, even 5-6 foot long alligators are being consumed in whole by the snakes. Pets and small farm animals in the vicinity are at risk, and small children are completely vulnerable game as well. The snakes wrap their muscular bodies around their prey and constrict their breathing. They then swallow their victims whole. The process may take weeks.
The statistics are alarming to wildlife experts and residents as well. While most incidents have occurred in the extreme south, near Miami, the pythons are being sighted as far north as Marco Island and Naples on the Gulf Coast. While Burmese Pythons are the most abundant, African Pythons and a variety of boas and other dangerous exotics are also growing their numbers.
The state of Florida has engaged hunters to head out into the swamps in an effort to destroy as many of these reptiles as possible. But when the size of the area and the limited number of hunters are taken into account, the task is daunting … better yet, impossible.
There is no proven strategy of eradication that has proved to be effective. The public has been asked to refrain from abandoning their snakes and legislation is being enacted that will forbid further importation of these exotic reptiles. Action must be taken at once before the matter gets completely out of control.
So far, the only limiting factor to the further spread of the snake menace is extremely cold weather. While most of Florida’s agricultural base dreads a killing frost, many environmentalists welcome it. Perhaps the only thing that might save Florida from the threat is the return of the ice age. Don’t count on it. So in the meantime, be aware of the danger that lurks in the trees and bushes. Learn more about how to protect yourself from this danger and keep an eye on your children and pets.