//Pythons Take over Historic Everglades

Pythons Take over Historic Everglades

Burmese pythons are taking over the historic Everglades. Hunts are held regularly, but the number of snakes removed is not on pace with the rate at which the snakes are spreading. They compete with and prey on native species. Wochit

The roaming sentinel, a male python named Argo, with a surgically implanted tracking device, needed just three days to lead researchers to the largest trove of pythons found yet in Collier County.

It was a landmark discovery of the recently completed breeding season, just before Valentine’s Day. Argo had just found a 100-pound female python getting ready to lay eggs in a culvert. The female was captured, and Argo was let loose again to be tracked.

Three days later and a half-mile away, a team with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida found the invasive snake. This time he was surrounded.

“We locate him and then there is another male, and another male and another,” Conservancy wildlife biologist Ian Bartoszek said. “We know what all the males are there for, so it’s like, where’s the female?”

The researchers beat through the brush and started pulling up the tall grass until they found her, a massive egg-laying female that would weigh in at 115 pounds.

Including Argo, she was with seven male Burmese pythons. The eight snakes, called a breeding aggregation, were the most found in one place in Southwest Florida and the western Everglades, where the pythons have been steadily spreading for years. It matches the largest aggregation found in the known hotbeds of the central and eastern Everglades, where the invasive and elusive predator has decimated entire populations of small mammals.

“It was a frenzy,” Bartoszek said.