|Burmese Python Invades South Florida|
|Written by Émilie St-Hilaire,Four Green Steps|
|Friday, 10 August 2012 08:49|
Written by Émilie St-Hilaire,Four Green Steps
The Burmese Python, a snake that can weigh up to 200 kg and measure 7 meters, is usually found in warm regions of Southeast Asia. However, in the last decade, an increasing number of Burmese Python have been seen in the region of Everglades National Park, in south Florida. How did this snake manage to invade an environment thousands of miles away from its native region?
The human factor plays a big role in this invasion. Burmese Pythons were imported from Southeast Asia at the end of the 20th century to serve as exotic pet or zoo attraction. Hurricane Andrew which hit Florida in 1992, helped release Burmese Pythons that were kept in zoos. Many others were released in the wild by owners that kept them as pets, realising they could not take care of 4 meters and still growing snake.
The release of a long-living and fast reproducing animal, in conditions that suit perfectly its needs, resulted in the invasion of everglades. How is this invasion problematic? The Burmese Python does not have any predators in the Everglades. There is therefore no restriction to the growth of its population. Added to that, the Burmese Python seems to be able to eat everything, literally. Its diet includes birds, small mammals, lizards, alligators and deer.
Some animals it preys on are already endangered, like the Wood stork and the Key Largo Cotton Mouse. Everglades’ native predators, such as the Indigo Snake and the American Alligator, are also affected by the presence of a new, fierce predator. The introduction of the Burmese Python as an additional predator and competitor is affecting the regional food chain, and threatening the ecological balance.
There are rumors saying that the Burmese Python could eventually invade other states of the South of the Unite states. For the moment, no Burmese Python was seen outside of Florida. The invasion of other regions will depend on the Python’s adaptation to other types of environments, with different biomes, climatic conditions and prey availability.
Image courtesy of Creative Commons.
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