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Snakes On A Plain: Invasive Species And How We Handle Them

Conservancy of Southwest Florida wildlife biologists and female Burmese python removed from egg clutch.
Conservancy of Southwest Florida
Conservancy of Southwest Florida wildlife biologists and female Burmese python removed from egg clutch.

Invasive species are the house guest from hell: inviting over whoever they want, eating everything in sight and leaving you to clean up the mess.

These non-native invaders put over 40 percent of threatened or endangered species at risk, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

In Florida, the demise of smaller native animals can be traced to one main species: the Burmese python. It’s estimated that between 10,000 and hundreds of thousands Burmese pythons roam the Everglades — a nebulous estimate for a species that’s characteristically hard to detect. They likely entered the region when exotic pet dealers transitioned to importing other species and set them free.

Here’s more from Smithsonian Magazine:

The raccoons and marsh rabbits and opossums and other small, warmblooded animals are gone, or almost gone, because Burmese pythons seem to have eaten them. The marsh’s weird outdoor quiet is the deep, endlessly patient, laser-focused quiet of these invasive predators. About two feet long when hatched, Burmese pythons can grow to 20 feet and 200 pounds; they are among the largest snakes in the world. The pythons are mostly ambush hunters, and constrictors. They kill smaller animals by biting them on or near the head and suffocating them as they are swallowed. Larger animals are seized wherever is convenient, and crushed and strangled in the coils before and during swallowing. Large constrictor snakes have not existed in North America for millions of years. Native wildlife species had never seem them before, and may not recognize them as predators.

How do we protect endangered wildlife from invasive species?

Show produced by Haili Blassingame, in partnership with Smithsonian Magazine.


Ian Bartoszek, Wildlife biologist, The Conservancy of Southwest Florida

Joel Trexler, Professor of Biological Sciences, Florida International University

Carrie Brown-Lima, Director, New York Invasive Species Research Institute, Cornell University

For more, visit https://the1a.org.

© 2019 WAMU 88.5 – American University Radio.

Copyright 2019 WAMU 88.5

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