Last month three Burmese Python hatchlings were found in Key Largo. This is concerning. Burmese Pythons are large snakes – up to 18 ft. – and can eat a wide variety of vertebrate animals – including alligators. They can certainly cause a problem for local wildlife and pets. State and federal agencies have had traps placed in the Key Largo area for a few years monitoring whether the animals would disperse from the Everglades to the Keys. The recent findings were hatchlings – 3 of them – and they were all found in the same area – suggesting a nest nearby. But efforts to locate nests and adults have not been fruitful. Though it is believed they came from a nest, how they got there is uncertain. They have asked residents to report sighting of snakes to FWC immediately.
Burmese pythons have been found in other locations around the state including 2 reports in the Florida panhandle – visit www.EDDmaps.org to view. Some releases are accidental – others are intentional releases by pet owners who no longer want the animals but are unwilling to have them put down. It is very important that owners of exotic pets make sure their enclosures are well built and as escape proof as possible. If you have an unwanted exotic pet, FWC holds Amnesty Days across the state where you can bring your animal.
Invasive species, both plant and animal, are either environmental and/or economic problems across the state. Groups like the Florida Invasive Species Partnership, FWC, and UF/IFAS Extension work to help educate the public on how to identify the organisms and how to remove them. If you are interested in learning more about invasive plants on your property, or participating in an invasive species removal event, contact you county Extension office.