The Python Invasion of the Florida Everglades

The balance of nature is the reason behind survival. The ecological systems are in an equilibrium, which is why humans, animals, and other living organisms survive in the system. But if there is any disturbance, it could cause an imbalance or negative effect that opposes the survival of some living things in nature.


It is our responsibility to maintain the balance. Unfortunately, there is an imbalance in the everglades of Florida. After 1980,the escalation in the number of invasive pythons in the Florida everglades has disturbed the ecosystem. Now, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of invasive pythons attack and eat the native animals.

Invasive pythons have become a headache for the authorities. It is pretty tricky for Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to control the population and growth of pythons. It is a significant problem, and people should be aware of it to contribute help whichever way they can. In this article, you will get to know about the history of pythons in the Florida Everglades, their effect, government elimination programs, and everything you should know. Let's start the discussion.


History of Florida's Invasive Pythons

There are two popular theories in this regard. Some people say and believe that these pythons were once pets. In the 1980s, people kept pythons as pets in their homes, but because of their giant size and aggressive nature, the pet owners threw them in the Everglades. This theory makes sense but is not widely accepted because of the pythons' exponential growth. If we see the current number of pythons in Florida everglades, this theory does not look substantial; it is more like a myth.


Researchers also believe that this massive population of invasive pythons is because they migrated from their previous habitat. They think that after the hurricane in 1992, pythons relocated to Florida everglades. The everglades do not have any natural predator that could kill these pythons, and food is abundant. Thus, these pythons have been exponentially growing since their migration.


Whatever the reason behind these invasive species, the important thing is their elimination or control of their growth. So, the main focus should be the solution to the problem instead of the cause.


Effect and Disasters of Invasive Pythons

The Florida Everglades consists of a vast area of20,202 square kilometers. It is a vast area, and invasive pythons are proliferating. There are tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of pythons in the Everglades. The exact number is still unknown because the land is vast, and these dangerous pythons are spread everywhere. They can easily hide in the bushes and camouflage themselves.


Let's take a rough figure of 50,000 pythons. We assume that around half (25,000) would be females. Each female can lay 50-100 eggs, depending on the species. It means that the number of pythons is being multiplied by 50 every year. It is an alarming situation as the numbers are overgrowing. Keep in mind that it is just an assumption, and there could be more pythons and more females.

There are various Python species in the Florida Everglades, but the most prominent one is the Burmese Python. Only the Burmese Pythons are in the tens of thousands. There are more invasive species, including the Northern African Python, the Yellow Anaconda, the Reticulated Python, the Beni Anaconda, the Southern African Python, and several others.


These pythons can be up to 18-20 feet long. According to the statistics, most eliminated pythons are about 0-4 feet, and the second place is for 7-8 foot pythons. It indicates a higher number of small pythons, and there will be many giant pythons in the future.

All these invasive pythons are disturbing the whole ecosystem. The disturbance or imbalance is created because pythons are killing the native animals and species for food. They are killing animals in the everglades, and they have no predators. Thus, their numbers are increasing, and other species are at the edge of extinction.


For these invasive pythons to reach the length of 13feet, they might eat a raccoon, an opossum, four alligators, several coots, herons, ibises, rabbits, squirrels, and dozens of rodents. Now, you can imagine how they eat the native animals. One Python can have this massive hypothetical diet, and there are thousands upon thousands. Thus, other animals are near to extinction. According to a study in 2012, the population of opossums had dropped to 98.9 percent from 1997. The same is the case with other native animals, and this is just a harsh situation that must be controlled.


There is no doubt that invasive pythons affect animals' lives, but it is also threatening for nearby populated areas. People who live near these areas have encountered pythons, and the future is darker; there could be more in the suburban areas. Thus, not only the animal population but the human population could also be in danger.


Alligator Versus Python

It is an exciting debate, and people struggle to find out the answer. You might have read or heard that alligators could kill pythons; however, this is quite rare. In Florida, the Burmese Python invasive species can quickly strangle an alligator. Hypothetically, a 13 feet python could have eaten five alligators in its whole life.

In this battle of alligator versus Python, unfortunately, pythons are the winner. If it would be the other way round, there could be an easy way to eliminate these invasive pythons. Pythons are pretty fast compared to alligators, and they are affecting the alligator population. It is good to have reasonable control over the alligator population, but their predators impose a more significant threat.


What are Authorities Doing to Control Pythons?

Authorities have been dealing with Burmese python invasive species and other snakes for around a decade. The government has realized that this is an alarming situation, and it is of utmost importance. There is a need to control the population of these invasive species.


The government has allowed python hunting in the Everglades. There is no restriction on public lands, and the private lands require the permission of the owner. There is a python elimination program that hires 50 contractors to eliminate pythons. The contractors get paid for the job. The hourly wage is $8.65-$15, and each contractor can work for 10 hours per day. There is a $50 bonus for eliminating a python above 4 feet and an incentive of $25 for every foot above 4 feet. As a result, around four thousand pythons are eliminated every month, and the number is still increasing. Apart from the program, challenges and competitions are also arranged to eradicate invasive species. You can also take part in it and get a prize.


Scientists are studying pythons for the greater good. They are trying to manipulate the genes of pythons to eliminate the growth of female pythons. There have been various studies and solutions proposed to deal with the problem; however, nothing is promising.


According to the government, the chances of the elimination of invasive pythons are pretty low. The pythons are rapidly growing, and they are spread over a thousand square miles. Currently, they are trying to reduce the growth rate and population as much as possible.


Final Words

Pythons in Florida Everglades are invasive species, and they are disturbing the ecosystem of the region. Since the 1980s, their population is increasing rapidly, and now, there are tens of thousands. They are spread across a large area of the Everglades. These invasive species are a threat to native mammals, reptiles, birds, and fish. The growth of these species must be controlled at every cost to maintain the balance of nature. The government is trying hard to reduce the increase, and thousands of snakes are eliminated every month. People are also allowed to do python hunting. We must be aware of this problem and contribute for the sake of nature and native animals.