Large Invasive Snakes Pose High Threat to Florida Wildlife
For decades, all Florida had to worry about were alligators. Now, it seems they have a bigger problem on their hands; 5 bigger problems, to be precise: snakes.
Large, invasive snakes are becoming quite the problem in southern Florida. Most likely, the snakes were set loose by pet owners or escaped from other facilities. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, except they are breeding by the thousands and devouring native species. The snakes also have no issue with traveling long distances, so they may start slithering north at any time.
The 302 page report on the snakes—released by the US Geological Survey—may give way to a ban on importing constrictor-like snakes to the states. The US Fish and Wildlife Service needs to evaluate the report, however, and seek public opinions before such a ban would go into effect. If you are wondering about the snakes: nine were studied for the report. The five that pose the highest risk to US ecosystems are: boa constrictors, Burmese pythons, north African pythons, south African pythons, and yellow anacondas. The other four—which pose a medium threat—are: the Beni anaconda, Deschauensee’s anaconda, green anaconda, and reticulated python.
These snakes can lay up to 100 eggs at a time, and they’ve been known to devour things from birds to bobcats, and even alligators. With the snake population explosion that’s happened in the past 10 years, entire wildlife populations could be completely wiped out.
“The fear is that something will happen akin to the situation with brown tree snakes on Guam,” said Dr. Robert Reed, a research biologist with the US Geological Survey. “There, within 40 years of arrival, the snakes wiped out 10 of 12 bird species on island.”
In an effort to tackle the invasive snake issue, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will be permitting a few snake experts to hunt, trap and kill the snakes in order to remove them. Hunting is not allowed in the Everglades National Park, though some 270 Burmese pythons have been removed from the park so far this year.
They are also saying that the snakes pose a small threat to people, and you shouldn’t have much to worry about. Though, I would still be wary if I were you, especially if you go wandering out in nature somewhere. You never know where they could be, when they may strike, or if you’ll be their next meal. So, if you live in Florida, stay safe and keep an eye out for the snakes.
By Heidi Marshall