Pythons are New Intruders at Rookery Bay
With its sub-tropical climate, it's no surprise that south Florida is a magnet for those who prefer temperatures a
bit on the warmer side. And that doesn't only apply to beings of the human nature; many plant, animal and reptile species
have found that survival in this tropical paradise is easy living. However, that can become problematic when the species
is non-native and their existence threatens the natural environment.
Enter the Burmese python. With thousands of acres of forests, grasslands and swamps, south Florida provides the perfect
environment for these and other exotic species. Many of the region's earliest pythons were spotted in Everglades National
Park, then last year the first adult Burmese python fatality was officially documented in Collier County near Rookery Bay
National Estuarine Research Reserve. A few days later, a Burmese hatchling was found expired in the same area. It was becoming
apparent that the python population outside of the Everglades was growing. Other than the Burmese python, several constrictors
are known to exist in the Everglades National Park, including African rock python, reticulated python, ball python, boa
constrictor and two species of anaconda.
If you come upon a python, do not attempt to catch the snake unless you are a skilled snake handler and have additional
assistance. Take photos and call the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission at (888) 404-FWCC, or the python hotline,
(305) 815-2080 with the exact location and time/day of sighting, colors and pattern, and estimated size of snake.
Rookery Bay resource managers Jeff Carter, Steve Bertone and Carl Marchand measure a Burmese python.