SWFL biologists track Burmese pythons to help control the population

Published: June 25, 2021 9:50 PM EDT
Updated: June 25, 2021 10:26 PM EDT

A large reptile species in the state is putting other Florida animals at risk, so Southwest Florida scientists are working to capture as many as they can.

According to a new report, tracking the invasive Burmese python is helping scientists control the population.

Conservancy of Southwest Florida in Collier County is catching the pythons, bringing them back to the lab and then putting tracking devices on the snakes.

After they are released back into the wild, the scientists can follow them around, and it provides a very helpful tool to understand the huge constrictors.

“20,000 pounds of snake have come in the door and out the door,” said biologist Ian Bartoszek with Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

The Burmese python is a threat to Florida’s ecosystem.

“It feels like a crime scene investigation when we open these animals up and see what they have been eating,” Bartoszek said.

Bartoszek says they’ve found bobcats, alligators and white-tailed deer inside of pythons that have been captured.

To work on catching them, the team of biologists published a study they’ve been working on for eight years.

“It gives us an insight into their world,” Bartoszek said.

They put tracking devices in 84 pythons in a 100-mile radius. For data purposes, they honed in on 25 of them, and they noticed the snakes stay pretty close to home base.

“We’ve found that female pythons have a smaller home range than males at 1.1 square miles, and the males have larger home ranges at 2.6 square miles,” Bartoszek said. “If we know they are targeting those upland features and what habitats those are, that will guide better search efforts for humans looking for them.”

This study will continue with new technology to track the pythons. The goal is to one day have a good count on how many of them are really out there.

Biologists stress there is no need to be afraid of them, but if you ever see one, you can report it on National Park Service’s IveGot1 mobile app.