Florida Has Had it with These Non-Native Snakes!
Five giant invasive snake species — Burmese pythons, northern and southern African pythons, boa constrictors and anacondas — could endanger some of America's most important parks and wilderness areas if they are allowed to multiply, according to a report released on by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on Tuesday.
The reptiles, some of which grow to over 20 feet long and weigh over 200 pounds, threaten the health of native ecosystems in Florida and parts of the southern U.S. by decimating indigenous species of birds and animals. The snakes have escaped or been released into the wild by people who purchased them as pets when they were small and manageable.
The environment of south Florida has proven to be a favorable environment for the snakes to thrive and breed. It is estimated that tens of thousands or Burmese pythons now live throughout the Everglades, a wildlife refuge home to the Florida panther and other endangered species. The snakes are competing with native alligators, crocodiles and other predators.
The report cited as a cautionary tale the Pacific island of Guam, where the invasive brown treesnake has wiped out 10 of Guam’s 12 native bird species, one of its two bat species, and about half of its native lizards.
Large invasive snakes can become dangerous to more than just wildlife — the USGS report said that the snakes thrive in rural and suburban areas and could pose a threat to humans.
Four other snakes — the reticulated python, green anaconda, Beni anaconda and Deschauensee's anaconda, are considered "medium-risk" but are still potentially serious threats, the USGS report said.
Information for this article was obtained from USGS. The report, entitled "Giant Constrictors: Biological and Management Profiles and an Establishment Risk Assessment for Nine Large Species of Pythons, Anacondas, and the Boa Constrictor" can be viewed here: http://www.fort.usgs.gov/Products/Publications/pub_abstract.asp?PubID=22691