Pythons in the Everglades

My son with his first Python

The Battlefield:

Pythons in the Everglades has become a huge problem for people like myself who love this place we call home. The Florida Everglades is a fragile and unique ecosystem consisting of roughly around 2,000,000 acres of wetlands. It’s one of the most beautiful ecosystems I’ve ever experienced, and I have done my fair share of traveling. An amazing array of animals that call this place home. There are many factors that can play a part in the destruction of the Florida Everglades but today we’re gonna be talking about the Burmese python.

The exotic pet trade:

As a kid growing up in South Florida in the 1980s and 90s, I could always go to a pet store and there was always a Python for sale. It was a big fad thing back in the days along with Miami Vice lifestyle.They sold pythons like hotcakes. The Python is a constrictor, and not poisonous, but incredibly strong. The python in the Florida Everglades is the master of camouflage and concealment. They strike with incredible speed, latching onto their prey, and then swiftly begin wrapping and squeezing its prey to death. Once the animal has died, the snake dislocate portions of its bottom jaw, and begin to swallow its prey hole.
I have grabbed many of these snakes, and when they begin to constrict, the immense pressure is impressive to say the least.

Ecological impacts:

Now with Pythons in the Everglades they are basically the Pac-Man of the Everglades. This animal has a ferocious appetite. They are basically a moving tube sock. A large python has the ability to take down a large alligator. Think about that for a second if you’re a 400 pound 10 foot alligator you could be eaten by a python. That means every other animal on the food chain is subject to the python diet. Birds, fish, turtles, even land, mammals, such as deer and coyotes have been eaten by Python. The only two animals I can think of that might survive at Python would be a black bear or a panther.
With pythons in the Everglades that also restrict food source abilities for other native predators.

The good news is we’ve learned recently that the Everglades is fighting back. There is scientific data with GPS transmitters showing that small snakes that were released into the ecosystem and eaten or killed. This last year Pythons in the Everglades had either eaten or killed by water, moccasins, raccoons, possums, And alligators. It’s a jungle out there and a dog eat dog world per se. That always makes me happy when I go Python hunting and sometimes we don’t catch them because hopefully the ecology is fighting back.

Conservation efforts:

There are people that are incredibly passionate about the removal of these pythons. The state has put on different functions, such as the Python round up challenge. We have state certified contractors that are allowed to access restricted levy systems that the general public cannot. Private hunters such as myself go out on their free time or with paid charters, searching to remove the snakes.

Florida also has laws set in place to restrict this trade and ownership of the snakes. In reality all you have to do is go on Instagram and you can find Exotic constrictors for sale. Exotic snakes can be mailed right to your door from an internet purchase. It comes down to responsible pet ownership and I’m not one to knock someone for their love of certain pets. I happen to be a huge dog lover. Python hunters put in a lot of hours in the field and then we put in a lot more in the field to help remove pythons in the Everglades.

Personal Opinion:

In my opinion, what we know about pythons is that we really don’t know that much at all. Pythons are constantly breaking records in length, weight, and reproduction. We now have pythons as far north, as Ocala, which is near the Georgia border. We know the snakes are migrating and growing. Pythons are not limited to the Florida Everglades is inaccurate because they are in our residential neighborhood and suburbs. We just happen to live with the wildlife and don’t pay much attention to it.

If we do not continue our efforts with long hours in the field and extensive hunting programs, the snake will dominate as the Apex predator, and it will be humans once again that lead to the destruction of another beautiful ecosystem.

Capt Bill Ferris