Burmese Python pets that escaped or were released have proliferated in the Everglades. A recent study suggests they are behind the sharp drop in the population of raccoons and other mammals.
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
A recent study suggests that the proliferation of the non-native pythons is causing severe declines in the populations of raccoons, opossums and other common mammals in the park. It may also eventually decimate endangered species of both mammals and birds.
“Before 2000, mammals were encountered frequently during nocturnal road surveys,” says the report, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “In contrast, road surveys … from 2003-2011 documented a 99.3 percent decrease in the frequency of raccoon observations, decreases of 98.9 percent and 87.5 percent for opossum and bobcat observations.”
Rabbits and raccoons were once described as the most common mammals in the Everglades. The researches failed to detect a single rabbit. White-tailed deer sightings are down 94.1 percent.
The problem isn’t just a growing number of hungry snakes. Certain mammals native to Florida have no recent experience with large predatory snakes.
“For at least 16 million years, there have been no snakes in Florida large enough to prey on medium-sized mammals,” the report says.