Snakes have made their presence known to residents in Southwest Florida. That is because in this region’s the swamplands called the Everglades, the Burmese pythons have taken over the area. With their ferocious appetites, the snakes have begun to gobble alligators, birds, raccoons, opossums and many more animals.
Officials think that the pythons were first released into the Everglades between 15 and 30 years ago. Since then, the snakes have gotten comfortable in their new home where they slither through the swamps. Most of the 30,000 or so snakes that live in this habit were probably born there and the others came from pet owners who release the pythons when they get too big.
Scientists know about the pythons’ eating habits because of the wide variety of animals, including alligators and large mammals that have been found in the snakes’ stomachs. Until now there had not been any indication that the snakes were altering the ecosystem. Several Biologists had several studies that showed numbers of small and medium sized mammals have lowered. One study was done where they drove around southern Florida to estimate how the ecosystem had changed and over a four nights of driving on Everglades’s roads, the scientists counted only nine mammals. On another stretch of road, over five nights, they didn’t count any.
Efforts are underway to rescue the Everglades and make sure that the ecosystem doesn’t continue to fall. Officials have already removed more than 1,000 pythons from the area, but that has barely made a difference. “In January 2012, the U.S. Department of the Interior officially made it illegal for people to bring Burmese pythons – or other giant snakes like anacondas and some constrictors – into the country.”