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Rooting Out Pythons

July 22, 2016

An invasive python’s own social behaviors could be its undoing in Florida.


HIRSHON (host):

Hunting pythons with pythons. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Burmese pythons have invaded the Florida Everglades and are decimating native bird and mammal populations there. But University of Florida wildlife ecologist Brian Smith says the python is difficult to eradicate because it’s almost impossible to find.

BRIAN SMITH (University of Florida):

Even if you sort of know almost exactly where it is, you can wind up standing on it and not know you’re standing on it, even if it’s a ten-foot snake.


In the journal Biological Invasions, he reports on a new tactic: outfitting male pythons with radio tracking devices. Since the snakes mate in groups of up to eight, a single male can lead them to many snakes, including females who roam less and are harder to find. Eliminating the snakes may be impossible, but the new technique might at least help to reduce their numbers. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.