Pythons Moving From Everglades To Concrete Jungle

MIAMI (CBS4) – Pythons have been getting a lot of attention lately. The snakes have spread across South Florida, and the nuisance has lead to a ban which has spiked a campaign from those in favor and those against the reptiles who are not native to Florida.

Some groups are grateful for the ban, which begins in late March, others feel it will not do anything but create unnecessary panic.

Pythons are hard to find, tough to capture and impossible to control. Proof can be seen in pictures obtained by CBS4 across South Florida of python sightings: from a farm in Homestead, to an African python found south of Bird Road, to one found in Kendall and another in Miramar. The pictures taken by various trappers and government agencies uncover a new reality: snakes are popping up across south Florida.

“We don’t know if it’s tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands,” said Eric Stienmetz, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, who patrols for pythons in the Keys.

The mangrove swamp area provides endless pathways where pythons can move freely and eventually spread across even more urban areas. Under a watch for almost ten years by government agencies, the python population has grown.

New numbers from Everglades National Park show that  in 2002, it stood at about 20, in 2006 it jumped to around 175 pythons captured, it peaked in 2009 at about 375 and then dropped in 2010 to 325.

Besides being a nuisance, studies show pythons have proven to be damaging to our eco-system.

“They eat our local deer, hogs, raccoon, possums, the key largo wood rat,” said Steinmetz.

If not properly fed, they can also pose a danger to people and pets.

A scenario that is all to familiar to the Moore family in Key Largo.

“Next thing I know, my wife is shaking me and said John, John, get up, get up. What’s wrong? What’s wrong,” said John Moore.

He awoke to find a snake slither onto his couch in his docked house boat.

“I saw a python with its head looking at the cat and the cat was looking at it. It looked like it was going to get it at any time,” said Moore.

The cat survived and the snake got away. Further north, off Biscayne Blvd. and 71st street, a snake was discovered just this month in the yard of a house in the upper east side of Miami.

Professionals with Expert Wildlife Trappers Inc. are responding to more snake calls from unsuspecting families worried for their safety.

“If a snake gets inside the house, they don’t know how to handle it,” said Osmar Silva, owner of Expert Wildlife Trappers.

Maps also show that the snakes are spreading.

Tracking from the website, shows hundreds of reported incidents across Florida.

To help control the population, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission now has a hotline, 1-888-Ive-got1.

“The goal is to be able to find exotic wildlife out in the environment and to be able to respond and take them out of the environment,” said Jenny Ketterlin Eckles, a biologist with FWC.

The group addresses the overpopulation. They work closely with FWC to find homes for pythons.

“If someone wants to get rid of the animals, we have to provide a home for them it is necessary,” said Matthew Passman.

People have had them for pets for years. According to experts, the secret to maintaining a healthy python is to properly feed it. By doing so, you ensure the python will not go on the attack for food. Gathering food is the main reason why experts say pythons become aggressive. Pythons are believed to have escaped into the wild for two reasons: people may have released them after not realizing how to take care of them, and Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The storm may have done damage to pet shops in its path, sending snakes to roam free in the Everglades.

So with hundreds of acres of Everglades, extermination is not an option, according to experts.

“They are very good at hiding. Even a 16 foot snake can disappear in the saw grass,” said Ketterlin Eckles.

Experts feel we need to make policies for proper management of a majestic species which is thriving in the Florida landscape.

“They are going to reproduce faster. We are going to have more of them,” said Steinmetz

  • Jorge Estevez

    What do you guys think of this look at snakes?

    • Ben

      i love animals,snakes included . The snakes get the bad rap when its really careless people who cause the problem. But since they are bad for are nativ animals I guess we have no choice but to eradicate them. I would just prefer for them to be caught and givn to the zoo or for learning about them and teaching othes rather than killing them.

  • Jimbo99

    Time to wage war on them, destroy them.

  • Baby Banger

    Like lionfish and iguanas in the Lower Keys— All non-native insurgents should be dispatched upon sight. The fact is once they escape, they migrate and change the environments of the areas where they take up residence.

    There are areas of Weston where that have been changed forever due to them

  • me

    Those who do not want the ban give me your address when i find one i will take it to your house. How do you like that now?

  • DC

    I think the main point of this report, that pythons are moving out of the glades into the city, is probably 100% wrong: the snakes found in urban areas are most likely escapees. Escaped pythons have been found in neighborhoods for decades. Do you really think the Biscayne Blvd snake migrated from the glades along the 836? A huge snake was found dead in Biscayne Bay after Andrew. The premise that these would leave the glades and move into Weston or Hialeah and eat our cats and kids is pretty ludicrous, as are scenarios depicting a northern migration to Louisiana.

  • Roy

    Why so upset about a few snakes? They are just illegal immigrants trying to make a better life for themselves and their families!

  • deedee

    It has to be controlled, we cant have the Natural habitat of FL become destroyed. Guam has had the problem with brown snakes, now their song birds and other small creatures are gone. Serious business to take care of, and I hope they manage to fix this horrible problem , brought on by Human beings.

  • ATM

    Why should we particularly care about one species over another? Are we scared of the snakes? Let the strongest survive, right?

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