Predatory pythons shift Everglades ecology

As invasive snakes expand territory, some mammal populations drop by more than 90 percent

5:19pm, January 30, 2012

Giant snakes are eating their way through the Everglades, leaving a drastically changed ecosystem in their wake, a new study shows.

The snakes, many of which measure 10 to 16 feet, are called Burmese pythons. But make no mistake: Virtually all of the roughly 30,000 living in southern Florida were born in the Everglades. Ecologists now report that populations of mammals have begun plummeting throughout the pythons’ expanding range. And the timing of these mammal losses matches the geographic spread of the snakes, which federal officials believe were initially released into the wild by snake fanciers, probably 15 to 30 years ago.

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