In the Everglades, a creature unlike any others slithers through the trees. Animals scatter away in horror of the creature as it boasts its fangs and eats everything in sight. DUN, DUN, DUN! It’s the Burmese python.
Okay, maybe the story is not so dramatic, but the Burmese python has caused a lot of damage to the Everglades.
The python is known to be an invasive species. An invasive species is an exotic species that, once it is introduced to the ecosystem, explodes in numbers and does environmental harm or harm to human health, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
These invasive species can come from either a different part of North America or a different continent altogether.
Invasive species can lead to the extinction of native species.Think of the Everglades as a system of checks and balances. In a perfect ecosystem, plants get eaten by smaller animals, larger animals eat those smaller animals, and so on. This system of checks and balances can be disrupted once a predator that is not a part of the system is introduced.The animal thrives because it has no real predators and can eat anything.
Burmese pythons have become an invasive species after being released by pet owners. The pythons, one of the largest species of snake in the world, have been known to feed on mammals and sometimes even alligators!
According to a Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences report, in January 2012, there was a severe decline in mammal populations in the Everglades over the last eight years. A full-grown 13 foot python, needs to eat about 200 pounds of food every five years, according to the Nature Conservancy. The Burmese pythons have been known to get up to 13 feet.
To fight back against the invasion, the Nature Conservancy launched Python Patrol. Citizens are encouraged to call in snake sightings at 1-888-IVE-GOT-1. The call will reach Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission call centers in South Florida where a trained responder are dispatched, according to the Nature Conservancy.
For more tips on ways you can help stop the invasion, visit the Nature Conservancy Python Patrol page at http://bit.ly/16W0EyU.