Trappers Find 200 Pythons
POSTED: 3:15 pm EDT April 12, 2006
UPDATED: 3:19 pm EDT April 12, 2006
EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK, Fla. — It’s a wild kingdom in the Florida Everglades and officials say some overwhelmed pet owners are to blame.
Images: Pythons In The Everglades
"They’re eating pretty much everything in Everglades National Park," said Dan Kimball, superintendent of the park.
Burmese Pythons from Southeast Asia are among the biggest snakes in the world, growing more than 20 feet in length.
The snakes are imported and raised as pets. But when they outgrow their cages, many are released into the wild.
In the warm Florida Everglades, they have found a home and are breeding. More than 200 have been found.
"I think they’re going to be breeding as fast as we’re capturing them," said animal trapper Todd Hardwick.
The invasive pythons threaten native birds and mammals and have even tangled with alligators. One 13-foot python actually ruptured and died after swallowing an alligator.
In fighting back, scientists are going high-tech. At Davidson College in North Carolina, a 16-foot python was among four snakes captured in the Everglades, and then surgically fitted with radio transmitters.
The snakes were then released back into the wild, leading scientists to other snakes.
"Now the snake is no longer in front of us. It’s back behind us," said biologist Skip Snow, who used a radio receiver to find the implanted snakes.
On one trip, Snow found a 10-foot python hiding in a clump of grass.
Florida lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it a crime to release Burmese Pythons and other snakes into the wild. Owners would have to register the reptiles and pay a $100 per year fee to own one.
The bill sponsor said too many casual python buyers have no idea what they’re tangling with.
"What we’re trying to do is bring some common sense and reality into something that some people look at as being harmless," said Rep. Ralph Poppell.
But, some pet store owners oppose the snake license fee.
"It will force a lot of people to just buy them out of state and go underground with it," said Rian Gittman.
Biologists said that’s just one more concern as they face the giant intruders in the Everglades.
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
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