Research on Introduced Snakes and Other Reptiles in Florida

Research Project: 


Project Manager: 

A giant Burmese Python found in the Everglades
A giant Burmese Python found in the Everglades

Over the past several years, giant non-native constrictor snakes of several species have surfaced in the vicinity of Everglades National Park. These giant snakes (up to 20 ft. long and 250 lbs. in weight) are efficient predators of warm-blooded species ranging from wrens to deer, and represent a novel threat to which native species are poorly adapted. The best documented is the Burmese Python (Python molurus bivittatus), of which over 1,500 specimens have been collected from the park. An established population of Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor) exists about 20 km east of the Park, and Northern African Pythons (P. sebae) were recently confirmed to be established along the western border of Miami. Individuals of several other species of giant constrictor, such as the Reticulated Python (P. reticulatus), Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus), and Yellow Anaconda (E. notaeus) have been found, but none of these is known to be established.

Invasive giant constrictors have the potential to appreciably alter ecological communities in southern Florida and, in some cases, elsewhere in the United States. FORT scientists recently conducted a comprehensive risk assessment of 9 giant constrictor snake species to evaluate the ecological, economic, and human-welfare risks associated with invasive giant constrictors in the United States. In the course of assisting land managers from several agencies in Florida tasked with addressing the issue of invasive snakes, FORT scientists are also researching and evaluating control methods for invasive snakes, including ecological research required for effective implementation of these methods. Cooperating agencies include the Endangered Species and National Wildlife Refuges branches of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, South Florida Water Management District, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, University of Florida, and Florida Wildlife Commission.