Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Survey optimization for invasive Burmese pythons informed by camera traps

September 25, 2023

The Burmese python (Python bivittatus) is an invasive predator responsible for broad mammal declines in South Florida, United States. Despite their large size, pythons remain cryptic and require multifaceted approaches for detection. We evaluated a novel technique by deploying camera traps at known locations of radiotagged pythons in the Florida Keys. We estimated daily detection probabilities of snakes and plotted diel activity patterns. Our results suggest camera traps can effectively survey pythons but seasonality and camera trigger mechanisms affect utility. Pythons were most detectable with time-lapse camera traps and more detectable in winter. The diel activity pattern of pythons peaked midday through early afternoon, indicating an optimal survey time for other search methods. Artificial intelligence can alleviate photo volume, so we recommend a combination of motion detection and time-lapse with shorter time (1 min) intervals for python-specific surveys and where camera traps are deployed to monitor mammals to improve passive python detection.

Publication Year 2023
Title Survey optimization for invasive Burmese pythons informed by camera traps
DOI 10.1002/wll2.12021
Authors Michael V. Cove, Jeremy Dixon, Katherine King, Matthew Willson, Kristen Hart
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Wildlife Letters
Index ID 70249458
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center