Category Archive 'Burmese Python'

23 Aug 2018

Hybrid Python Supersnake?

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The Miami Herald reports scholarly speculation on the results of python cross-breeding in the Florida Everglades.

What started out as a straightforward genetic study of Florida’s invasive python population has turned up a surprising plot twist: a small number of crossbred Burmese and Indian pythons with the potential to become a kind of Everglades super snake.

For the study, published Sunday in the journal Ecology and Evolution, U.S. Geological Survey researchers examined the tail tissue of 400 snakes captured in South Florida, from the Big Cypress Swamp to the Everglades. While the vast majority appeared to be closely related Burmese pythons — imagine a family reunion packed with first and second cousins — 13 had genetic markers from Indian pythons, a different species that unlike the swamp-loving Burmese snake prefers high, dry ground.

The number is clearly small, but it raises the risk that over time some Everglades snakes could become better suited to a more varied landscape. Scientists call it hybrid vigor.

Python hunter Dusty Crum carries a python caught as part of South Florida Water Management District licensed hunting program in May. The state has been paying a select group of hunters to kill the invasive snakes on state lands since March 2017.

“If the Indian pythons have a wider range, perhaps these Everglades snakes now have that capability,” said lead author and USGS geneticist Margaret Hunter. “It’s quite interesting and quite surprising, but we don’t know the extent it’s in the population.”

RTWT

09 Dec 2016

Can’t Eat Just One

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16-foot female (an invasive species record) had the remains of three deer in its system.

Sporting Classics:

Burmese pythons are the scourge of the Florida Everglades, eating anything they can fit inside their cavernous jaws. They’re known to eat deer when the opportunity arises, but one invasive serpent has officially set a world record: three deer in its gut at the same time.

In 2013 wildlife officials discovered the remains of a doe and two fawns in the belly of a 15.6-foot Burmese python. The snake was captured and later euthanized as part of a scientific study conducted by researchers from Pennsylvania’s Dickinson College, with the results of their findings being published earlier this year in the scientific journal BioInvasions Records.

“A comparative examination of bone, teeth, and hooves extracted from the fecal contents revealed that this snake consumed three white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus),” wrote lead researcher Scott Boback. “This is the first report of an invasive Burmese python containing the remains of multiple white-tailed deer in its gut.”

The paper reports that the snake likely ate the three deer at different times over an 87-day period. The presence of special teeth only present in fawns helped researchers identify the younger deer, while another tooth pointed to an animal at least 12 months in age. The growth rate of deer hooves ultimately helped the researchers determine that three deer—one older than 12 months, one 24 to 30 days old, and one roughly two weeks old—had been eaten.

Other than the hooves and teeth, researchers found a skull fragment, bits of vertebrae and appendages, and some fur, but scant else. A python is capable of digesting bone, so the remains had to be carefully examined to determine what was contained in the snake’s fecal material.

In the end, the researchers believe the snake hid from its prey in some body of water, then when they came down to drink it attacked with its backward-curving teeth and began constricting them. While pythons have been present in the Everglades since at least the 1990s, deer simply haven’t adapted to this new danger.

“Because the largest snakes native to southern Florida are not capable of consuming even mid-sized mammals, pythons likely represent a novel predatory threat to white-tailed deer in these habitats,” the researchers wrote.

Read the whole thing.

21 Jun 2012

“And Then, There Was One”

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click on picture for larger image

From one of those Russian photo sites which never give any information or sources. That looks like a Burmese python to me, and like a very bad idea.

04 Aug 2009

Record Florida Python

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Okeechobee Veterinary Hospital staff holding snake (Tampa Bay Online)

Dallas Examiner:

Since July 17, authorities in Florida have allowed reptile hunters with special permits to capture and euthanize pythons that are thriving in the Everglades and other parts of the state, living off native species and harming the fragile ecosystem.

The largest python (a Burmese Python (Python molurus bivittatus – DZ) so far was captured on Thursday. It was a 207-pound (94.09 k.) male that measured more than 17-feet (5.18 m.) long and 26 inches (66 cm.) in diameter; however, it was not captured by one of the permitted hunters. Instead, it was shot on the 20-acre (8.09 h.) compound of the Okeechobee Veterinary Hospital by one of the vets who was alerted to its presence by his nephew. It is illegal to shoot pythons in Florida wildlife management areas or federal lands, but the snakes can be legally shot on private property.

The now-deceased snake is believed to be one of more than 100,000 pythons living in the Florida wilds. The snakes are often abandoned by disgruntled pet owners when they become too large to handle and too expensive to feed. They can reproduce rapidly with female pythons laying up to 80 eggs at a time, and they have no natural predators in Florida.

Hat tip to PBurns via Karen L. Myers.


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