Ecological Impacts of the Burmese Python

In recent years, many native species that call the Everglades home have begun to disappear due in part largely to the Burmese Python. Burmese Pythons also are competing for food, habitat and space which is leading to the decline of other organisms as well  (Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health). In a report that was published in 2012 by the USGS they noticed severe population decline of mammals. Specifically, populations of raccoons had dropped 99.3 percent, opossums 98.9 percent, and bobcats 87.5 percent since 1997. Marsh rabbits, cottontail rabbits, and foxes effectively disappeared (USGS).Everglades National Park released a hypothetical diet of a 13ft Burmese Python, and it was shocking the amount of damage it could do (South Florida Water Management District). The hypothetical diet included one raccoon, one opossum, four five-feet alligators, five American coots, six little blue herons, eight ibises, 10 squirrels, 15 rabbits, 15 wrens, 30 cotton rats, and 72 mice (SCA and NPS).

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A battle between a Burmese Python and an Alligator, source: National Park Service 

Additionally, with the establishment of Burmese Pythons, the question presented is will humans be a target for large pythons? The answer as of right now is no but there still is a small possibility humans could be targeted in the future if the pythons become large enough (Reed and Snow).

Researchers are doing everything they can do try and track these snakes using spatial data (Bonneau et al.) as well as using various tests and methods to control the spread of Burmese Pythons. Additionally, National Park staff are combating the invasion through the use of dogs that can sniff out snakes (Wadlow), snake traps (USDA), employing snake hunters from local areas and world class snake hunters from India (Flesher) and even imposing a ban on the trade of Burmese Pythons. A ban on Burmese Pythons was created in 2012 and prohibited the moving of any live Burmese Pythons, even in the form of eggs and sperm, across state and national boundaries (Reptile Magazine).

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