Saturday, 21 March 2015

Burmese pythons devastating rabbit population in Everglades

March 20, 2015

Brett Smith for – @ParkstBrett

Thanks to the exotic pet trade, Burmese pythons have invaded Florida’s Everglades and it turns out – they have developed a taste for area rabbits.

According to a new study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the python has become the main predator of marsh rabbits.

To determine the impact these snakes are having on the rabbit population, study researchers took rabbits from snake-free regions of the Everglades, fitted them with radio collars and mortality sensors, and dumped them off in snake-infested lands. The team saw that pythons were responsible for 77 percent of the animals’ deaths.

Exotic pets and hurricanes
Burmese pythons came to Florida through the exotic pet trade and ended up in the Everglades after being dumped or released there by owners, who either couldn’t or wouldn’t take care of the reptiles.

Snake expert Lisa Powers adds that, “…most of the python introductions can be traced back to Hurricane Andrew, which caused much damage to some facilities where pythons were housed, i.e. pet stores, exotic animal warehouses, zoos and private residences. While some animals were recovered, many were not.”

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