The Burmese python is an invasive species in Florida, wreaking havoc on local ecosystems. They are such a nuisance that people are encouraged to "humanely kill" the snakes to help curb the population. Burmese pythons found their way to Florida thanks to pet owners who couldn't handle them. As the snakes grew too large, this may have prompted their release and subsequent population growth in the state.
Alligators continue to be found in Burmese python's stomach in Florida, raising more questions about the snake's impact. What's going on with the Burmese pythons in Florida?! Keep reading to find out more.
An alligator was found in the stomach of a Burmese python in Florida.
In November 2022, a massive Burmese python found in Florida came with interesting information. According to ABC 7 News, the 18-foot-long snake had a strange mass in its stomach, which, when scientists explored further, was found to be a five-foot-long alligator, still intact. Geoscientist Rosie Moore posted about the find on Instagram.
The snake, which had been euthanized by Everglades National Park employees because Burmese pythons are invasive species, was then examined by scientists. After noticing the snake's body had strange lumps, they cut into it to investigate, discovering the alligator inside.
As ABC7 reported, when Moore and other scientists performed a necropsy on the python, she said, "I actually thought it was pretty gross too and I'm used to necropsies and things. Oh my gosh. We were taking breaks running outside trying to get some fresh air. I've never smelled anything like that."
Why are Burmese pythons killed in Florida?
As the United States Geological Survey (USGS) explains, non-native Burmese pythons are among the most invasive species in the Florida Everglades. One reason that's a problem is that the pythons compete with the native wild animals for food, which leads to a decline in native mammal populations, like raccoons, opossums, and bobcats.
Due to these damaging reasons, Floridians are encouraged to kill the snakes, not transport them. Hunters and residents may kill Burmese pythons without even having a permit, but they are required to do so in a "humane" way.
There are multiple programs that not only encourage but incentivize the killing of Burmese pythons in Florida. For example, the South Florida Water Management District pays "python removal agents" to kill the snakes. And the Florida Python Challenge is an annual event with prizes for python "removal."
Burmese python diets include alligators.
The discovery of the five-foot alligator is more evidence of the Burmese python's typical diet. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), these snakes eat various mammals, birds, and reptiles. Having no natural predators is part of why Burmese python populations have grown.
The Burmese python continues to be a target for hunters and residents in Florida. In July of 2023, hunters found and killed the longest Burmese python on record at 19 feet long.