The invasion of Burmese pythons in Florida appears to be expanding rapidly, with researchers estimating t here are 30,000 of the reptiles statewide.
The biggest concentrations are in the Everglades, though they have been found as far north as Manatee County, according to Frank Mazzotti, a University of Florida researcher who has been tracking the snakes since 2005.
“We need to do something so that five years from now, we’re not looking at an exponentially bigger population,” he said. “Females may store sperm, so they can produce fertile clutches for years. And a 100-something-pound snake can easily be producing 60, 80 eggs a year.”
Burmese pythons are likely to colonize anywhere alligators live, he said.
The best eradication strategy, he believes, is a focused effort to contain and reduce the population by tracking, capturing and euthanizing the reptiles.
From 2002 to 2005, there were 201 pythons found in the Everglades. In 2006-07, 418 were found. The largest ever found was 16 feet long and 152 pounds.