MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The levees along the banks of Everglades canals is prime real estate for Burmese Pythons—and right now is the time when the population is growing.
“This is the peak, this is the height of the python nesting season right now,” said Marshall Jones of Mack’s Fish Camp.
At this time of year, python eggs hatch, unleashing even more of the invasive species.
“These baby pythons are born about 18-20 inches long, depending on the size of the mother, but they can have a clutch as many as 40-50 babies at a time,” said Jones.
Jones grew up in the Everglades. He’s watched as python numbers have skyrocketed and, he says, they’re a hungry bunch.
“When python eggs hatch, they don’t stay with their mom, they immediately go out and begin to forage wherever they can,” said Jones. “These babies are eating machines from the time they come out of the eggs.”
Pythons will eat almost anything. They like wildlife that lives on the levees and baby birds are no exception—they are great tree climbers.
“The pythons can climb them easily and they get up into the tree where the nests are and consume the young fledglings,” said Jones.
The fear is that with no natural predator, the huge constrictors will overtake the gator as king of the Everglades.
“Unfortunately due to the invasion of the pythons here in the Everglades, the small game population has dwindled by as much as 50-percent in the last decade,” said Jones.
The hunts that occur throughout the year aim to help decrease the growing number of pythons but the most effective way to control the population is Mother Nature—when South Florida gets the rare freeze that kills many of the Pythons.