As part of an ever popular international pet trade market, and incidentally along paths of human travel, many exotic animals have been removed from their native lands and landed where they are not necessarily welcome arrivals. Among these invasive species are a growing number of Burmese pythons, which have taken up residence in the wetlands of Florida, courtesy of overwhelmed pet owners and hurricane-hit animal warehouses.
Accidentally or intentionally released pythons and other exotic animals, such as parrots, reptiles, and lizards are inhabiting dry as well as wet habitats, and feeding on or competing with native species. Giant pythons are well-adapted for success in Florida, where the habitat is similar to their Asian home. Although they are non-venomous, pythons are among the largest snakes in the world, reaching up to twenty-six feet long. Their size and power makes them one of the top predators in Florida’s Everglades National Park, taking on even the alligators, and posing a threat to many of the indigenous and endangered species.
NATURE follows teams of scientists and hunters as they use their vast knowledge of snakes and their prey to uncover the impact of the pythons on the park’s fragile ecosystems. Herpetologist Shawn Heflick uses some innovative techniques to observe the mechanics of the snake’s bite, while scientists Stephen Secor and Skip Snow employ advanced technology to analyze the ways in which pythons swallow and digest animals that can be more than half their own body size. Watch as a wild python ingests an alligator whole.
Journey with NATURE as it investigates what comes next in the story of the Invasion of the Giant Pythons.