REAL WORLD EVENT DISCUSSIONS

Invaders: How Burmese Pythons Are Devouring the Everglades

POSTED BY: NIKI2
UPDATED: Sunday, February 2, 2014 19:46
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Wednesday, February 1, 2012 9:42 AM

NIKI2

Gettin' old, but still a hippie at heart...


Humans can be so stupid sometimes. I've always wondered about people who get Burmese for "pets" without giving any thought to how big...or mean!...they will eventually get. I've had many snakes in my time, but aside from co-owning one Yellow Anaconda, I would NEVER take on something that grew so huge. I only co-owned her because she needed a home, and tho' I kept her for a while, I always wondered what my co-owner, Michael, would do with her once I moved on.

I'm down to one blind Ball Python and will probably never get more. Bu I've had everything from a pair of little mated Corn Snakes to a gorgeous Guyanan Boa (unlike the more common Mexican Boa, her markings stayed vivid all her life and she had a lovely pink tinge). But boas are the biggest snakes I would EVER have; they get to about 8 feet, which is quite big enough, considering their girth.

To have a snake as a pet (and yes, they DO have personalities) which will grow to over 20 feet was always insane to me. Young snakes are beautiful, their markings are vivid and colorful and they're easy to handle. But Burmese, just like Retics (Reticulated Pythons), get BIG...and tho' Retics can get to over 32 feet, Burmese and Anacondas get too big to handle eventually--and they, like Retics, get downright MEAN as they get older (not so with Anacondas). People end up turning them loose when they can't handle them, and as you can see, when short-sighted people get them as pets, they can go on to be incredibly destructive:
Quote:

Burmese pythons are eating machines. An adult snake can grow to nearly 20 ft., and it can eat everything from raccoons to bobcats to deer to alligators, killing its prey by constriction and then swallowing them whole. On the jungle food chain, Burmese pythons rest near the top.

Burmese pythons are also — as the name might suggest — not local to the U.S. But they are a popular pet, imported to this country from their native habitat in India and Southeast Asia. And sometimes those pets escape from their owners or are simply let go — especially in Florida, a nexus of the imported wildlife trade and one of the few parts of the U.S. with a climate and landscape to which the pythons can easily adapt. That’s how hundreds or even thousands of Burmese pythons have managed to establish themselves in the Florida Everglades — the vast protected wetlands in the southern Florida — where they’ve become a persistent challenge for local officials tasked with protecting endangered wildlife.

Now a new study published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggests just how big a threat the invasive Burmese pythons have become. Researchers led by Michael Dorcas of Davidson College in North Carolina looked at the distribution of mammals in the Everglades nearly 20 years ago — before Burmese pythons established themselves in the area — and then more recently. They found a drastic reduction in the number of small mammals that are typically part of a python’s diet, and they also discovered that the remaining mammals tend to be most abundant in areas that are either clear of pythons or where the snakes have only recently been spotted. The evidence is strong enough to suggest that invasive Burmese pythons are causing significant wildlife loss in the Everglades — and that the problem could worsen as the snakes continues to grow.

Dorcas told the BBC that the Burmese pythons are rearranging the food chain in the Everglades:
Quote:

Any snake population — you are only seeing a small fraction of the numbers that are actually out there. They are a new top predator in Everglades National Park — one that shouldn’t be there.

We have documented pythons eating alligators, we have also documented alligators eating pythons. It depends on who is biggest during the encounter.

While the snakes have been spotted in the Everglades for at least the past 20 years, they were only recognized as fully established in 2000. Wildlife officials have tried to remove the snakes — 400 were taken out in 2009 — but the damage may already be done. The PNAS researchers looked at data from detailed nighttime road surveys of the Everglades between 2003 and ’11, and compared that data with similar roadkill surveys taken between 1993 and ’99 and road surveys done in ’96 and ’97. They found:

• A 99.3% decrease in the frequency of raccoon observations.
• A 98.9% decrease in the frequency of opossum observations.
• A 87.5% decrease in the frequency of bobcat observations.
• A total failure to detect any rabbits.

More at http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2012/01/31/invaders-how-burmese-pytho
ns-are-devouring-the-everglades/#ixzz1lA12GT2H

Burmese can take on huge animals:


(This one was found with a 76-lb. deer in its stomach)



And tho' yes, they're beautiful before they attain full size,



Once they do, little is safe from them



I swear, sometimes we are an especially selfish, short-sighted, self-destructive species. Not to mention just plain stupid.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012 9:53 AM

BYTEMITE


>_>

Hunting licenses? I hear snake meat tastes like chicken.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012 10:00 AM

NIKI2

Gettin' old, but still a hippie at heart...


Byte, they've tried everything. They have had hunting licenses for Burmese and numerous others (including Tegus--I had one, they're beautiful, and I'm not sure why they hunt them as they mostly eat eggs) for a long time. In conjunction with the Fish and Wildlife Service's own programs attempting to eradicate them, hunting is common, but even those haven't been enough to stop the spread.

Oh, and python meat from the Everglades have been found to contain high amounts of mercury, so I don't think hunting for food is a great idea!

Where there used to be no limit on imported reptiles, back in my twenties they started regulating importation, and later ownership, of some species. You can't legally own a Burmese in Florida; only people who owned one prior to last July were allowed to keep them for the life of the snake. A great example of too little, too late!



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Wednesday, February 1, 2012 10:12 AM

NIKI2

Gettin' old, but still a hippie at heart...


Oh; I looked it up, and now I see why they're eradicating the Tegus:
Quote:

Just when you thought it couldn't get any freakier than pythons slithering around South Florida, along comes another reptile to brighten your day.

This one has four legs, sharp claws, is native to South America, and just might take down your chihuahua.

It's called the tegu lizard.

"We've seen a bunch of 'em and we've been able to trap a bunch of 'em, too," said wildlife biologist Dennis Giardina of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Just like pythons and iguanas before them, the tegu is breeding in the wild because people had them as pets and let them go.

Once they grow to be three feet long and turn from cute to slightly menacing, they become a pain to take care of, too, and many pet owners think it's OK to let Timmy the Tegu out the back door.

That's how the problem starts.

Apparently they'll eat anything they can, tho' eggs are a preference so they're enangering crocodile nests; mine was a Black Tegu, he only ate eggs and was a real sweetie, even tho' nearly three feet. I let him run loose when my room (in our communal house) was warm, and he'd crawl up under the covers by my feet if he got cold, slither up my side and sleep next to me. He never bit anyone, but obviously mine wasn't the usual experience.

They're a really pretty species:



Tho' they can get ugly as they get older, like all reptiles (like all animals?):





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Wednesday, February 1, 2012 10:15 AM

AURAPTOR

America loves a winner!


Quote:

Originally posted by Niki2:



I swear, sometimes we are an especially selfish, short-sighted, self-destructive species. Not to mention just plain stupid.



Think of all the belts, handbags and boots that can be made ! Those are real jobs, paying real money!




Hard to put a positive spin on this, but hey... can't hurt to try, right ?


" I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend. "

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012 10:27 AM

NIKI2

Gettin' old, but still a hippie at heart...


There IS no positive spin, but yes, Burm's skins and other items are sold for this and that. Don't think it provides a lot of jobs, but hey, whatever works! I may love snakes, but I'm an environmentalist before I'm an animal-rights activist, and invasive species are a problem all over the country.



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Wednesday, February 1, 2012 3:46 PM

RIONAEIRE

Beir bua agus beannacht


I saw something about this recently on PBS, thanks for putting up something more, this sounds like a huge problem for the Everglades, its too bad one can't eat the meat, because snake always looks really yummy when Bear Grills is cooking it up over a campfire.

Yeah Niki people are pretty short sighted, it never occurs to them that this could turn into a big problem. Invasive species cause lots of problems.

"A completely coherant River means writers don't deliver" KatTaya

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012 3:55 PM

AURAPTOR

America loves a winner!



Is python meat bad ? Seems like that critter could feed a small village. Smaller snakes, I could understand not eating them, but these guys... Seems folks will eat just about anything, so why not Python ?


" I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend. "

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012 6:51 PM

BYTEMITE


I guess the wetlands they're in is contaminated with mercury. In this case, the mercury comes from municipal waste, and because of the chemical conditions, it'll tend to accumulate in anoxic environments, like the decay in a swamp.

Elsewhere, those snakes might be very good eating. It's a shame, it's true what you say, about how many people one could feed. I don't like taking life, but wasting life is pretty bad too.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012 6:52 PM

RIONAEIRE

Beir bua agus beannacht


The meat would be good except that it was said above that they've tested it and it has too much murcury in it, might not be the safest thing to eat.

"A completely coherant River means writers don't deliver" KatTaya

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012 11:30 PM

AURAPTOR

America loves a winner!


Quote:

Originally posted by RionaEire:
The meat would be good except that it was said above that they've tested it and it has too much murcury in it, might not be the safest thing to eat.

"A completely coherant River means writers don't deliver" KatTaya



Then think of the thermometers they could be made into ?


" I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend. "

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Thursday, February 2, 2012 4:13 AM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


Hello,

The only way to solve this problem is to pay by the foot. And set a price high enough to get people's attention.

There is no predator that can be relied upon to selectively decimate a population but man. Pick an animal, set a price, and wait. Once it's profitable to kill a thing, humans kill it until it's gone.

--Anthony



_______________________________________________

"In every war, the state enacts a tax of freedom upon the citizenry. The unspoken promise is that the tax shall be revoked at war's end. Endless war holds no such promise. Hence, Eternal War is Eternal Slavery." --Admiral Robert J. Henner


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Thursday, February 2, 2012 4:48 AM

CAVETROLL


Too bad we can't do that with zebra mussels.

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Thursday, February 2, 2012 8:22 AM

NIKI2

Gettin' old, but still a hippie at heart...


I agree, Anthony, with everything you wrote. And I, too, WISH the meat was safe to eat, at least it wouldn't go to waste that way.

And yes about invasive species...of everything! This county has been pretty much taken over by Broom, and it's damaged a lot of places where it's pushed native species out. Not to mention the goddamned feral pigs they've been trying to eradicate from The Mountain for decades...!



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Friday, March 23, 2012 7:29 PM

OONJERAH




What eats large pythons? Even the Burmese python must have natural enemies.
Tigers?




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Saturday, March 24, 2012 6:26 AM

NIKI2

Gettin' old, but still a hippie at heart...


Wow, kiddo, you really had to hunt this old thread down, hee, hee, hee!

The guy that man has is an albino Burmese...beautiful, isn't he? They don't survive in the wild because of their coloring, so the only way one gets that big is in captivity, where they are bred as specialties.

What eats pythons? Their natural enemies are gators, tigers and man. IF any of those can catch them and not get killed! The most effective way is to grab them by the head and crunch...grab 'em anywhere else, you've got a fight on your hands!

Gators mostly get little guys...once they get full size, I wouldn't put money on the gator:



As you can see, the Burmese, at first behaving defensively, ends up intimidating the gator into retreating...and he's just a little guy! They'll take on about anything; size is immaterial since their constricting method can make them the winner most of the time. You can see how a gator would have a tough time, unless he crunched the head and killed him right off.

In Indonesia, where they come from, both Burmese and Reticulated Pythons get to around 32 feet, tho' someone mentioned a recent finding of a bigger one. The Retic is "officially" the biggest snake in the world...ah, I found it, and it's a Retic. No surprise there:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3845750/ns/world_news/t/-foot-python-captu
red-indonesia
/
Almost 49 feet. Wow. That's impressive!

Here's a Siberian Tiger family, in Russia; I'm guessing it's easier when there are multiple predators, tho' I don't know if cubs would partake in the kill.



Some smaller cats over there have been known to kill pythons, like leopards, but obviously it's hard to find film of same.

In Florida, gators and Burmese compete as top predator. Given big Burmese generally end up the winner, they're changing the dynamic, which is changing the ecosystem.

Most articles say they are "docile", which all constrictors are (which is why I only owned constrictors). But as they get really big, both Burmese and Retics get more aggressive. I've known a few; mostly unless you harass them, they ARE docile, and those in captivity are used to being handled.



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Saturday, March 24, 2012 11:36 AM

OONJERAH



I see domestic cats instinctively go for the neck of their
prey to minimize prey's defence. Big cats, too, I guess.

Since they don't wanna add tigers to Florida, finding an
attractant for the snakes might work.




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Monday, April 23, 2012 4:58 PM

OONJERAH



Biden, Sen. Nelson visit Everglades with heavy dose of election-year politics =>
http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/23/2764498/biden-sen-nelson-visit-e
verglades.html


... Nelson said he was happy to give Biden "a little glimpse into this
extraordinary God's creation."

"The vice president got to see the River of Grass," Nelson said. "And he
got to see those alligators. He didn't get to see the Burmese pythons,
which we are desperately trying to get rid of and, finally, thanks to this
administration, they have stopped the importation of this invasive species.
Amen to that."

Biden also touted the administration's successes. He suggested that no
Everglades restoration project happened before he and Obama were elected.
Biden, though, was referring only to the Everglades restoration projects
approved under a federal law passed in 2000.

Biden made no mention of the fact that many were in the permitting and
design phase under the previous administration of President George W.
Bush. Biden also failed to credit former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush in high-
lighting a restoration project in Collier County called Picayune Strand.

Still, environmentalists point out that the Obama administration has called
for more spending and more restoration projects more quickly.

Dawn Shirreffs, Everglades program manager for the National Parks Conser-
vation Association, an environmental group that advocates for restoration,
said the visit was important to maintaining support for the project in Washing-
ton. "If we're going to keep plugging away, we have to be able to show there
has been success and progress," she said.

In addition to highlighting the Picayune Strand restoration project, Biden
drew attention to other cleanup projects, such as the $400 million plan to
replace sections of the Tamiami Trail with a bridge that would allow more
water to flow through the historic River of Grass. ...



. . . . .The worst and most frequent consequence of paranoia is that it's self-fulfilling.


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Tuesday, April 24, 2012 2:34 PM

RIONAEIRE

Beir bua agus beannacht


Jennifer and her husband have moved to somewhere three hours south of their home base for three months, but at their home base in northern FL there is an allegator, Crocodilly, that they've fashioned as their pet, they take pictures of him and send them to us, we like them, he's four feet long. But in they'll be away from him now, I'll miss Dilly.

I saw a nature show where they were tracking the Burmese pythons to see where they go and what they do. I was smacking the TV because we all know what they do, they eat stuff they shouldn't be eating, so why study it, why not fix it instead?

I assume you're my pal until you let me know otherwise.

"A completely coherant River means writers don't deliver" KatTaya.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012 2:32 PM

OONJERAH



Invasive Pythons Threatening Florida Birds =>
http://www.eurasiareview.com/07042012-invasive-pythons-threatening-flo
rida-birds
/

April 7, 2012
Smithsonian scientists and their colleagues have uncovered a new threat posed by
invasive Burmese pythons in Florida and the Everglades: The snakes are not only
eating the area’s birds, but also the birds’ eggs straight from the nest.

The results of this research add a new challenge to the area’s already heavily
taxed native wildlife ...



. . . . .The worst and most frequent consequence of paranoia is that it's self-fulfilling.


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Thursday, April 26, 2012 4:54 PM

WISHIMAY

"Well, so long Earth...Thanks for the air... and what-not" -Philip J. Fry


Here's another invader... Cocktail sauce, anyone??? Butter and garlic, maybe...

*drools

http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2012/04/26/scientists-giant-cannibal-shrimp-
invasion-growing
/

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Sunday, February 2, 2014 12:37 AM

OONJERAH


There Won't Be Another Public Python Hunt In The Florida Everglades
(18 Nov '13)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/18/florida-python-challenge_n_42
96912.html


"MIAMI (AP) — Florida won't be repeating a public hunt meant to reduce the
population of invasive Burmese pythons in the Everglades.

"The state-sponsored Python Challenge attracted roughly 1,600 hunters in January and February and made headlines worldwide. It netted 68 of the snakes, the longest measuring more than 14 feet. ...

..."Instead, the state is beefing up established programs that train licensed hunters and people who regularly work in areas known to contain pythons to kill or report exotic snakes.

"Researchers say the snakes, which aren't native to Florida, are eating wildlife at an alarming rate and don't have natural predators in the state."


Makes sense to me.

But the Everglades bein' huge & a swamp, I don't
see how they can hope to ever get 'em out of there.

I guess the pythons, meantime, are eating the Tegu lizards?

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Sunday, February 2, 2014 11:18 AM

NIKI2

Gettin' old, but still a hippie at heart...


I don't think they CAN ever get rid of them. It's too perfect an ecosystem, too few predators. I certainly wish them luck, tho', it's pretty awful.

I never thought they'd get rid of the non-native boar on our mountain, but a ranger told me last year they'd finally managed it. I credit the return of our big cats for helping, at least, but I don't know what Florida can do about the Burms or others like them.

What did you mean about Tegus, Oonj? I had a black Tegu back when I kept herps, really NEAT critter (or did I already blather about that? Not about to go all the way back in the thread, so apologies if I did).


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Sunday, February 2, 2014 11:29 AM

1KIKI

Today, scientists sound the alarm on other environmental dangers. Vested interests still hire their own scientists to confuse the issue. But in the end, nature will not be fooled. Neil deGrasse Tyson


So much for the notion that you can do this privately (with government money for the bounty of course).

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Sunday, February 2, 2014 5:54 PM

OONJERAH



Tegu lizards : posts 3 & 4.

Last year's hunt just struck me as a fiasco and awesome fail.
If they had 1,600 hunters sign in for it, most of them probably were
qualified to make a lot noise, scare all wildlife into hiding. Thus only
68 pythons were bagged.

Someone apparently decided they now have to do it right.

It's occurred to me that the South is pretty swampy. So whatever is
in the Everglades will eventually show up in Georgia and Alabama.
However, I just looked at a map. Everglades is only in south Florida.
So creatures moving from one swamp to the next need to fly or walk
really well. Right?

Surely the Okefenokee will not suffer the same fate as the Everglades.
Snake owners will have learned better. Right?

Are pythons invading Georgia?
http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/metro/2012-12-07/are-pythons-invadin
g-georgia


"Two men saw an 11-foot Burmese python slithering across a Charlton
County back road, followed it into the woods and shot it. ...

"Breeding populations of the big snakes are also established in the
Florida Panhandle and northern Florida — not so far from Georgia and
the Okefenokee.

"Had the pythons already reached the Okefenokee? ..."

However, a few hard frosts could wipe 'em out along with other devastation.


====================== :>
All I suggest is a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest. ~Paul Simon

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Sunday, February 2, 2014 6:28 PM

1KIKI

Today, scientists sound the alarm on other environmental dangers. Vested interests still hire their own scientists to confuse the issue. But in the end, nature will not be fooled. Neil deGrasse Tyson


I realize a Nat Geo show isn't the be all and end all of information, but there's a python research center in Georgia (I forget where - in some place where it can get pretty cold) and their observation is the pythons do fine. They find some logs or rocks and curl up under to hibernate.

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Sunday, February 2, 2014 7:46 PM

OONJERAH


From the news article above:

“I wouldn’t think they could make it through the winter,” Gibbons said.

“I think they’ll get stopped at about Gainesville (Fla.), agreed Joe
Butler, a biologist at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.

"Even southernmost Georgia gets too cold for the tropical pythons to
survive, Gibbons said.

"But not everyone agrees, noted Willson,, now a biology professor at the
University of Arkansas. One controversial study concluded that pythons
could survive as far northward as Washington, D.C."

Nature is amazingly adaptable.
The snakes up here (2,200 ft with frost in winter), hibernate in the
winter.

I doubt that Alaska has any native snakes.



====================== :>
All I suggest is a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest. ~Paul Simon

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