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Constrictor Snakes in South Florida

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Constrictor Snakes in South Florida

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  • June 2012
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ConGiant Constrictor Snakes in South Florida
Marc Komlos, an environmental scientist for the South Florida Water Management District, gave the final talk of the Gumbo Limbo Ecowatch Lecture Series. He discussed the presence of giant constrictor snakes in South Florida, primarily in the Everglades. The South Florida Water Management District is currently trying to find a solution python problem, which, up until a couple of years ago, people did not believe existed. However, biologists have now established that there are giant constrictors in the Everglades and are working to remove them in a humane way.

Pythons and boas, classified as Boids, are comparatively large, non-venomous animals with a vestigial pelvic girdle. There are no native species of pythons and boas in Florida. Pythons are oviparous, or egg layers, and have premaxillary teeth. Boas are ovoviviparous and have no premaxillary teeth. Examples of pythons are the burmese, the indian, and the reticulated. Ninety-nine percent of the pythons in the Everglades are burmese pythons. Examples of Boas include the boa constrictor, yellow anaconda, and green anaconda. Currently, we have pythons and boas in the same environment, though they actually come from two different native lands. There are more pythons than boas. The Everglades matches their native habitat, which is a semi-aquatic landscape that rarely freezes. When pythons are young, they could be preyed upon by gators, some birds and mammals. However, they can reach more than four feet in length after their 1st year. Large pythons lack predators and have plenty of prey to choose from because they are ambush hunters and nondiscriminatory feeders.

There are two theories about the cause of the python and boa problem in South Florida. The first theory is that there was a facilitation of population spread through storm events, which damaged captive facilities. Flooded areas could ease disposal of giant constrictor snakes. The second theory is that the...