Pythons hunt Florida mammals to brink of extinction

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2000
Pythons hunt Florida mammals to brink of extinction
8
Tue, 01-31-2012 - 10:16am

I'd read about snake owners releasing them into the Everglades but didn't realise the impact.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21407-pythons-hunt-florida-mammals-to-brink-of-extinction.html

Florida's ecologists can be forgiven one pet hate: Burmese pythons discarded by their owners have eaten many Everglades mammals practically to extinction.

"This is the first documentation of impacts on animal populations, and they are dramatic, with 99 per cent declines in some cases," says Michael Dorcas of Davidson College in North Carolina.

Dorcas and his colleagues scoured 57,000 kilometres of roads in the Everglades between 2003 and 2011, recording all the animals they saw, dead or alive. For comparison, they had data from Everglades park staff recording roadkills between 1993 and 1999. Burmese pythons were recognised as an established species in the region in 2000.

The analysis showed that since 2000, observations of raccoons have crashed by 99.3 per cent, opossums by 98.9 per cent and bobcats by 87.5 per cent. Rabbits have vanished completely.

Significantly, the declines were not so sharp in areas yet to be fully colonised by the pythons, and there were no declines at all in python-free areas.

"The places where the prey mammals have declined most are where the pythons are most numerous," says Dorcas. Case reports describe finding the remains of declining species in pythons' stomachs, adding to the evidence that the snakes are responsible for the slaughter.

A further problem, says Dorcas, is that the prey species are unfamiliar with large snakes as predators, and so don't take steps to avoid them. "It has been millions of years since there was a large snake predator in Florida, so the animals are naive to detecting or recognising snakes as large predators," he says.

The bad news is that there are probably tens of thousands of the pythons at large in a remote wilderness area covering thousands of square kilometres, and despite their size they are extremely difficult to find and kill.

Last week, the US Fish and Wildlife Service banned imports and interstate transportation of the Burmese python – but reversing the invasion will be problematic, says Dorcas.

Dorcas strongly discourages pet owners from releasing pythons in the wild. He says that in Florida, there are "amnesties" where owners can hand in unwanted snakes for euthanising. "They are cool animals, but now they are a real problem," he says.

Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1115226109.

 


Photobucket&nbs

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2000
My two love fruit too. Whatever I have on my oatmeal in the morning I give some to them.... Bananas are big favourite. They love carrots too. TG mine can't reach the counter or table tops.
I can relate to thinking you've had a mental lapse my terrier takes my belongings pens & especially make-up. I looked for a bottle of foundation for two days until I found it under "her" pillow on the couch. Lipstick tubes & eye make-up make for great chewing.

 


Photobucket&nbs

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-30-2002

My poor guy. Every day, for the next month I have to give him this nasty tasting medicine (I tasted it.) He see's me coming with the syringe and just hangs his head because he knows what's happening. He loves fruit, of all things, though. So I cut up an apple and give him a few bites afterwards to get the bad taste out of his mouth. I just hope he doesen't associate apples with the bad stuff. He's a big sweety though. He's so goofy. I've had one "fruitarian" dog before. But this guy is so tall he can see my counter tops. Of all the things he's stolen off of it was a mango. I had cut half of it up and given it to dd. I went back and couldn't find it. I thought I was having a peri-menopausal moment, looked in the fridge, asked DH if he had taken it.....nope, a little while later I find the skin and pit on the dogs bed and him looking properly ashamed of himself.

Yeah, they are totally worth it.



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2000
Thu, 02-02-2012 - 12:06pm
The two dogs I have now were left alone in an abandoned house.
Just their annual check-up, for both, after tests, shots & Rx runs me over $500. Still they're worth it.

 


Photobucket&nbs

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2000
Thu, 02-02-2012 - 12:01pm
"They should put a bounty on them and encourage people to hunt them."

Good idea.

"Pets are a big responsibility."
ITA.

 


Photobucket&nbs

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-30-2002

Our new "free dog" came from a foreclosure. This family had what I call a lot of "impulse" pets. They see the Kmart puppies and kittens and couldn't say "No." We ended up with the sweetest Pyranese cross. He has demodectic mange, a bacterial and fungal infection in his skin, is heartworm positive and has not been fully vaccinated.

Oh well......there goes my dream vacation to Kaui. But he's worth it.



iVillage Member
Registered: 08-26-2011

hottllipps - I agree with you, it is a commitment when you purchase/get a pet.

Sadly it is not only with exotic pets that people take a light commitment to - it's everything from fish to horses. My mom volunteers/works at the local SPCA and the thing that make her the most irate are the people who decide to change their lifestyle (having a baby, moving, etc..) and dump their beloved pets off at the shelter without so much as a tear in their eye. Even sadder, she estimates that to be the case 70 to 80% of the time based off of her own experiences. That being said, at least these people didn't just leave the dog on the side of the road somewhere.

While I don't think that exotic pets should be illegal, there are plenty of people out there who are willing to do what it takes to have them, perhaps a required course on care and permits are necessary to help weed out people who want a cool pet but don't want to put the effort into keeping them.

Amanda
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-30-2002
Wed, 02-01-2012 - 11:41am

They should put a bounty on them and encourage people to hunt them. I'm sure that would bring their numbers down. But they would have to educate people so that native snake species don't end up innocent victims. I hate seeing things like this. We have issues with non-native fish in local lakes that damage local fish populations.



iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2002
Tue, 01-31-2012 - 10:00pm
Stupid people who get exotic pets without learning whether or not they make good long term pets...ugh! And then they let them loose into an enviroment without predators.

 nwtreehugger