Alligators, roseate spoonbills and black bears are among the many fascinating species of animals that are native to the River of Grass that you may see on an airboat ride through the Florida Everglades.
You may spot a Burmese python, but they do not belong in the Florida Everglades. And that’s why state officials are wondering whether they might belong on the menu.
Invasive Pythons Threaten Everglades Eco-System
Pythons are a big problem in the Florida Everglades. They are not native to South Florida. So how did they get to the Everglades? “Burmese pythons became established in the mid-1990s in the Everglades National Park, in South Florida, likely as released or escaped pets and then became invasive,” Live Science says.
The problem isn’t just that pythons don’t belong in the Everglades. It’s that they are decimating the population of animals that do belong there – animals that play a role in maintaining this delicate eco-system.
“Due to their large size, the snakes have few predators and will consume a variety of animals, including mammals, birds and even alligators,” Live Science explains.
“The Burmese python is one of the largest snakes in the world,” the Florida Wildlife Commission reports. “Adult Burmese pythons caught in Florida average between 1.8 m (6 ft) and 2.7 m (9 ft); the largest Burmese captured in Florida measured over 5.4 m (18 ft) in length.”
As you can imagine, something that big eats a lot of food and, unfortunately, as the FWC reports, some of the animals they eat are on the threatened or endangered species list.
For years, the state has been sponsoring python hunts, but now state officials are considering a campaign to take pythons out of the Everglades and put them on our plates instead.
“It’s not unheard of for an invasive or just pesky species to be eaten as a means of controlling their populations,” Live Science points out. “In Florida, the non-native lionfish and wild boar can be consumed for example. Even iguanas have been dubbed the ‘chicken of the trees,’ with the University of Florida publishing recipe ideas.”
The only problem with adding pythons to the list is that they might contain toxic levels of mercury. Research is underway.
In the meantime, don’t worry. We have taken countless people on airboat tours through the Florida Everglades, but we have never had a python on board!