Thursday, September 6, 2012

First Invasive Python Found on Key Largo

The following story was posted on KeysNet.com. It provides evidence that the introduced pythons are expanding their range into the Florida Keys. 


A python found on Key Largo late Friday did not go quietly.

At about 11 feet long, the python apparently is the largest invasive-exotic snake yet captured in the Florida Keys.

"The officers who captured it said this one was very nasty," said Officer Robert Dube, spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildife Conservation Commission.

That's why the wildlife agency noted the python "is not believed to be someone's escaped pet."

"Usually snakes that have been kept in cages and handled regularly are more docile," Dube explained. "This one was ready to fight."

Deputy Bryan Cross of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office was on patrol around 11 p.m. Friday when he spotted the python near mile 105.

The snake slithered into a heavily wooded lot, but the deputy followed it while calling for wildlife officers.

FWC Officers Jason Rafter, Kip Hoover and Shelton Bartlet came to corral and capture the potentially dangerous reptile.

Several pythons have been captured in the Keys but numbers are not recorded. "We've probably been averaging about one a year for several years now," Dube said.

In November, a 7-foot python was found on a Key Colony Beach driveway.

The first python ever discovered on Key Largo was found when researchers tracking a Key Largo woodrat with a radio collar followed the signal straight to the snake's belly.

The previous largest python from the Keys measured about 10 feet, 6 inches.

For several years, it was believed that the pythons found in the Keys probably were released or escaped pets.

However, research conducted in 2011 by U.S. Geological Survey staff demonstrated that pythons apparently have the ability to survive in salt water - meaning the reptiles may be able to swim across Florida Bay from the Everglades.

A python killed in the Everglades earlier this year measured a record 17 feet, 7 inches, and was carrying 87 eggs.

Constrictor snakes like pythons are considered a menace to native wildlife in Florida. Captured constrictor snakes usually are killed for research into their eating habits.

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