By Chase Hensing
The Florida Everglades are famous throughout the world for having a remarkable ecosystem consisting of a variety of different types of alligators, snakes, fish, lizards and birds. However, as of lately, the beautiful environment is under attack by an invasive species of snakes called the Burmese Python.
The snakes favor eating alligators, birds, and deer. Currently, the snakes are dominating the everglades ecosystem, as researchers in the park say that the alligator population in the park has been reduced by nearly 10% in the last twelve years. The Burmese Pythons are so supreme in this habitat because they are incredibly large, growing up to an average of thirteen feet and weighing 100 lbs. This advantage is very critical because they are able to slither around and be very stealthy, while also remaining very strong because of their massive weight.
According to the Everglades National Park Services, there are an estimated 60,000 pythons currently inhabiting the everglades. Since these snakes are not from this area, it was a large question of how the Burmese Pythons got there. There are multiple theories of how this happened. One is that during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, a breeding center was destroyed and all the Burmese Pythons escaped, populated the surrounding area, and eventually spread. Another is that during the early 1990’s when snakes were becoming popular to have as pets, people would buy Burmese Pythons. After the owners didn’t want the snake anymore, they would take it to the closest place they thought fit for a snake and leave it there. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, there was an estimated 99,000 snakes imported to the U.S. from 1996-2006. Thus, it is very likely that the Burmese Pythons came from the ones imported from other countries. In the past few years, the state of Florida has come up with a way to cut down the number of snakes.
Florida is attempting to solve this problem by hiring snake hunters to decrease Burmese Python population. The Everglades National Park opened up its boundaries to allow state issued snake hunters in to kill the snakes. The hunters have been working for about twenty months now and have killed over 1,500 pythons, but this is a very small step in putting the snake problem to rest. Glenelg Sophomore Jack Fitzgibbon states that, “I am a bee keeper, and I often have to deal with killer bees, which are also an invasive species. When you see an invasive species there is only one solution: you get rid of it [by] any means necessary. They need a lot of hunters to take these snakes out.” The hired hunters have got a long way to go in the fight against what seems to be the never-ending python population.
Out of the tens of thousands of Burmese Pythons in the Everglades, the professional hunters have only been able to exterminate a small percentage of them. However, no one knows for sure if the hunters will be able to eliminate the entire python population. Only time will tell if the Pythons will successfully create a permanent home in the Everglades or be killed off completely.