From rabbits to deer to even bobcats, invasive Burmese pythons appear to be eating through the Everglades’ supply of mammals, new research shows.
Since the giant constrictors took hold in Florida in 2000, many previously common mammals have plummeted in number—and
some, such as cottontail rabbits, may be totally gone from some areas.
Scientists already knew from dissecting the 20-foot (6-meter) snakes that they prey on a wide range of species within Everglades National Park.
popular as pets, Burmese pythons are one of nine species of constrictor
snakes, numbering about a million individuals, that have been imported
into the United States over the past three decades, according to the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Many of these animals have either
escaped or been dumped into the wild.
But this is “the first study
to show that pythons are having impacts on prey populations—and
unfortunately those impacts appear to be pretty dramatic,” said study
leader Michael Dorcas, a herpetologist at Davidson College in North Carolina.