How have invasive pythons impacted Florida ecosystems?

Non-native Burmese pythons have established a breeding population in South Florida and are one of the most concerning invasive species in Everglades National Park. Pythons compete with native wildlife for food, which includes mammals, birds, and other reptiles. Severe mammal declines in Everglades National Park have been linked to Burmese pythons.

The most severe declines in native species have occurred in the remote southernmost regions of Everglades National Park, where pythons have been established the longest. In a 2012 study, populations of raccoons had dropped 99.3 percent, opossums 98.9 percent, and bobcats 87.5 percent since 1997. Marsh rabbits, cottontail rabbits, and foxes effectively disappeared.

The mammals that have declined most significantly have been regularly found in the stomachs of Burmese Pythons removed from Everglades National Park and elsewhere in Florida. Raccoons and opossums often forage for food near the water’s edge, which is a habitat frequented by pythons in search of prey.

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Image: Tracking Device in Burmese Python
March 14, 2016

Tracking Device in Burmese Python

Team of scientists working together to insert a tracking device in a 14 foot Burmese python.

video thumbnail: Under Siege: Battling Flying Carp and Giant Pythons and How Science Can Help
July 3, 2012

Under Siege: Battling Flying Carp and Giant Pythons and How Science Can Help

Over the last several decades, non-native species have continued to invade sensitive ecosystems in the United States. Two high-profile species, Asian carp in the Midwest and Burmese pythons in the Everglades, are the focus of much attention by decision makers, the public and the media. Sharon Gross, Robert Reed and Cynthia Kolar discuss issues related to invasive species

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May 1, 2012

Biologists Remove Python from Everglades

This 16 1/2-foot python, being removed from the wild by USGS and NPS personnel, was captured in a thicket in Everglades National Park in May 2012. The python was equipped with a radio-transmitter and an accelerometer as part of one of the Burmese python projects led by USGS to learn more about the biology of the species to help in efforts to develop better control methods

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video thumbnail: Record-Breaking Burmese Python (17 feet, 7 inches, 87 eggs) Captured by The USGS, B-roll
March 31, 2012

Record-Breaking Burmese Python (17 feet, 7 inches, 87 eggs) Captured by The USGS, B-roll

Big Ol‘ Gal

This female Burmese python broke the records for her length — 17 feet, 7 inches — and the number of eggs she contained: 87. She was first captured in Everglades National Park by USGS researchers in the spring of 2012, when they followed a "Judas snake" – a male python with a transmitter – and found her nearby in the bushes. USGS scientists then

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Image: A Record-Breaking Invasive Burmese Python
March 6, 2012

A Record-Breaking Invasive Burmese Python

This female Burmese python broke the records for her length -- 17 feet, 7 inches – and the number of eggs she contained: 87. She was first captured in Everglades National Park by USGS researchers in the spring of 2012, when they followed a "Judas snake" -- a male python with a transmitter -- and found her nearby in the bushes. This picture is from the day of her initial

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video thumbnail: Constrictor Snakes (B-roll)
October 1, 2009

Constrictor Snakes (B-roll)

Video footage (B-roll) of Everglades National Park biologists hunting and capturing a Burmese Python in Florida.

Image: Projected Python Range (in U.S.)

Projected Python Range (in U.S.)

Projected climate in the continental United States in the year 2100, based on global warming models, that matches climate in the pythons' native range in Asia.

Image: Burmese python, a Giant Constrictor Snake

Burmese python, a Giant Constrictor Snake

Burmese python (Python molurus). Photo courtesy of Roy Wood, National Park Service.

Image: Invasive Burmese Python on Her Nest in South Florida

Invasive Burmese Python on Her Nest in South Florida

A female Burmese python (Python molurus) on her nest with eggs. Photo by Jemeema Carrigan, University of Florida. Courtesy of Skip Snow, National Park Service. Used with permission.

Image: A Burmese Python and an Alligator Encounter in South Florida

A Burmese Python and an Alligator Encounter in South Florida

A Burmese python (Python molurus) peeks over the head of an alligator that holds the python's body in its mouth in Everglades National Park. Photo courtesy of Lori Oberhofer, National Park Service.

Image: Southern African Python

Southern African Python

Southern African Python (Python natalensis). The snake pictured is a representative of a species discussed in the USGS snake risk assessment. This snake was photographed in its native range.

Image: African Rock Python

African Rock Python

African rock pythons are the largest snake in Africa, but now some have been found in Florida. They can eat goats, warthogs, and even crocodiles. In Florida, they are an invasive species.