Pets Outgrowing their Cuteness = Troubles for the Everglades

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Florida's Everglades National Park has been in the news lately, with images of a large python consuming a whole dee to tangling with alligators. It is believed there is a population of over 100,000 pythons taking over the Everglades. However they are not the only non-native species that is threatening the Everglades, but they receive the most attention. The population is just an estimate, since they have been able to infiltrate every area inside the park.

One method to try to help rid or at least reduce the python population was tagging and releasing the python, hoping that it would help rangers track the python back to a bigger snake nest during mating season.

A python can lay 50 to 100 eggs after mating. Even with the park rangers' best efforts they do not believe eradication will ever be a possibility. After a decade, they have killed 2,000 pythons, and believe it to be only a small dent. When they get a python they destroy it and do a necropsy to check the stomach contents and to check its health. Every native mammal from the park has been found in a python's stomach, except the endangered Florida panther.

With an ideal climate, prime habitat and no natural predators, they squeeze out, or devour, the native species. The invasive plants do similar damage on the vegetation side, and in the minds of some Everglades experts, could ultimately present a more serious threat to the fragile ecosystem here.

Most of the non-native species are believed to have been dumped by pet owners, who buy a little snake that doesn't take too much to feed, but that snake grows, and then they figure their only way out is to dump the pet. Florida now has amnesty days, where an exotic pet owner can take their animal to a collection site with no fee.

After Hurricane Andrew, almost 2 decades ago, the damage from the hurricane released a lot of these unwanted animals. The python is believed to have been in the Everglades since 1990 if not earlier. They are strong, and good swimmers, so there is fear they will travel to the Keys and wreck havoc on that ecosystem as they have to the Everglades.

A recent ruling by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has banned further importation of Burmese pythons and three other nonnative constrictor snakes -- the yellow anaconda, and the northern and southern African pythons -- since these snakes are judged to be too injurious to other wildlife. From ToledoBlade.com.