A Burmese Python slithers across a road before it is caught in Everglades National Park. One-time pets get too big and hungry for owners to handle and are “released into the wild.”
Fanciful legends of exotic snakes in the Everglades jungle have persisted since the late 1800s. South Florida officials were surprised when a 16-and-a-half-foot python was killed and cut open and inside was an intact, 76-pound deer.
In the 70s, a few Burmese python sightings were documented in the park. In the mid-90s, there were more reports. Nonnative Burmese pythons are a widespread problem and over 600 individual snakes have been captured since 2000. Everglades Park staff removed nearly 250 snakes in 2007 alone. Although native to Southeast Asia, the snake is established and breeding in the park. It can grow up to 20 feet and weigh 200 pounds. Hungry pythons prey on native wildlife including raccoons, rabbits, bobcats, and many birds, causing a disruption of the natural food chain and potentially serious impacts to the ecosystem.
New regulations were passed in Florida in June 2010 banning owership of some species that includes the Burmese python, Nile monitor lizard, reticulated python, green anaconda, and African rock python.
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