To continue our discussion from class about invasive species, I researched the burmese python problem in the everglades. The python is native to Southeast Asia, but, as sought after exotic pets, and irresponsible owners began releasing them as early as 1979. The pythons were able to adapt extremely well to the humid South Florida wetlands environment because of warm temperatures, plenty of camouflage, and bountiful populations of small and mid sized mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds. The estimated population has grown between 5,000 and 180,000. The python has been a specific threat to many endangered and low population species like the Key Largo Wood Rat, Mangrove Fox Squirrel, Key Largo cotton mouse, Wood Stork, Cape Sable seaside sparrow, and American crocodile.
To defeat the invasion of pythons and the state of Florida has enacted strict import restrictions on any species of large snake and pythons. To also help curb the populations, the state held an annual Python hunting challenge with a 1,500 dollar reward for the hunter with the biggest python yield. Only 68 were caught by the end of the month, a prime example of how difficult it is to find and capture these snakes. The only one natural control of these snakes are harsh cold snaps in the early winter. At least for the moment, the burmese python still reigns at the top of the food chain.