2015-04-05. The Snake That’s Eating Florida.

posted Apr 7, 2015, 8:53 AM by Alan Gould
By Clyde Haberman, The New York Times. For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 6. Excerpt: [video: Pets Gone Wild] ...In South Florida, wildlife officials have struggled for years with tens of thousands of the creatures: specifically, a species known as the Burmese python, an interloper from Southeast Asia that has taken up what looks like permanent residence in Everglades National Park and other areas of the state. ...At full maturity, a Burmese python routinely reaches lengths of 12 feet or more. Twenty-footers weighing 250 pounds are not unheard-of. The pythons are prodigious breeders, with voracious appetites to match. They are believed to have eaten their way through the Everglades, bringing about startling changes in the ecosystem. Some mammals native to those marshes, like foxes and rabbits, seem to have disappeared, researchers say. Other species — among them raccoons, deer, opossums and bobcats — are close to being wiped out. Pythons that migrated from the mainland to Key Largo have put indigenous wood rats in mortal peril. ...One issue with Burmese pythons is that people cavalierly bought them when they were maybe a foot long. In short order, those little fellows grew to eight feet, 12 feet, 16 feet. Talk about buyer’s remorse. Unable to deal with these giants, owners often dumped them wherever seemed feasible....  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/06/us/the-burmese-python-snake-thats-eating-florida.html