Invasive Burmese pythons slithering their way north in Florida

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CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — Could invasive Burmese pythons be creeping into your backyard?

Scientists report it’s a race against the clock as more of these behemoth snakes are being found in northern territories like Charlotte County.

Now, biologists are trying to get rid of them before it’s too late.

Pythons are already well established in the Everglades but ever since they were found there in the 90s, they’ve been spreading farther north and to the coasts.

FWC reports, “Burmese pythons are currently considered established from just south of Lake Okeechobee to Key Largo and from western Broward County west to Collier County. Any pythons found outside of those areas are likely escaped or released captive animals.”

It’s not too late to stop their population from exploding in our neighborhoods. Scientists said you can report invasive species on this website. FWC should also be notified to assist in the snake’s removal.

The website reports 19 python sightings in Charlotte County. FGCU Biology Instructor, Matt Metcalf, attributes those to pet releases or one adult making its way up there.

“It’s pretty far to go,” Metcalf said. “I don’t think they are established there at all. So they haven’t seen nesting, females, eggs babies but they’re definitely in the expansion range.”

Looking at a map produced in a recent U.S. Geological Survey publication, you can see the Burmese python population has moved steadily north over time.

NBC2 Burmese Python locations Invasive Burmese pythons slithering their way north in Florida

Python hunter, Donna Kalil, has noticed the trend too.

“The epicenter is South Florida and they’ve moved toward northward, east, west, from the Everglades which is the southernmost part obviously, and have moved north,” Kalil said.

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Over the past six years, she’s noticed her adventures taking her further north than ever before. Kalil believes there could be a myriad of reasons to include food sources, pet releases, and even potential overpopulation in the Everglades.

“We have to continue to get out as many as we can and each one matters. Each one makes a difference because each one eats hundreds of native animals and they breed and they can have hundreds of eggs and offspring in their lifetime,” Kalil said.

The hope is to get rid of the northern snakes before they decimate the ecology as they did in the Everglades.

“As the climate warms and as temperatures rise up, that frost line around Tampa starts to creep further north and so that also opens the door for more species to move up that wouldn’t normally be able to move north,” Metcalf said.

That’s why as we spot more of these pythons in areas like Rotonda and the El JoBean fishing pier, it’s important to get rid of them.

“I never recommend killing stuff unless you are 1000% sure what it is. The best option is to call someone, call FWC, send a picture too,” Metcalf said. He recommends leaving the execution to the experts.

“If they’re as big as you are it’s a Burmese Python; if they’re smaller it might be a native so leave it alone,” Kalil added.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>