Pythons - 12 of 24

Pythons FAQs - 24 Found

How many Burmese pythons inhabit southern Florida?

There are currently no reliable estimates of the total numbers of Burmese pythons in the invasive population. However, from 2000 to mid-October 2011, more than 1,786 pythons were removed from Everglades National Park and adjacent lands. Animals in excess of 16 feet have been captured in the park, including as recently as January 2012. However, even though it seems like such a large snake would be easy to find or see, only a very small fraction of pythons present in the park are ever detected, due to their cryptic coloration; hide, wait, and then ambush behavior; the dense low vegetation that helps conceal them; and seasonal inundation of the landscape, limiting human access.

Based on the geographic extent of the Burmese python population in Florida and knowledge of detection rates for other snakes, experts estimate that a population of at least tens of thousands now live in the wild in Florida, but stress that this estimate is extremely rough.  Population size may have dropped somewhat as a result of the severe cold snap of early 2010, but the population is expected to quickly recover from this unusual event.

For most animals, estimation of population size requires ‘mark-recapture’ methods – these methods involve capturing a number of animals, marking them for later identification, and releasing them back into the habitat from which they were removed.  By returning to these sites later and capturing another batch of animals, researchers can use the relative number of marked and unmarked animals to estimate population size.

However, in the case of a large invasive snake such as the python in Florida, land managers have decided that removing every python captured is preferable in conservation terms to releasing some animals to gain a clearer understanding of the population size. 

Tags: Ecosystems, Biodiversity, Native Species, Snakes, Ecology, Predator, Aquatic, Constrictors, Pythons