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Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Experts Track Burmese Pythons That Decimate Everglades' Native Species

Burmese Python

(Photo : National Park Service) The invasive Burmese Python caught in the Everglades in Florida

In a comprehensive tracking study on Burmese pythons in Florida, experts have identified their home range, which is important in helping them rid of the invasive species in the Everglades National Park, reports said.

The United States Geological Survey's (USGS) was able to map out the 10 thousand square-kilometer wetland in southern Florida using GPS tags, which were placed on 19 pythons caught from the park.

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They tracked the pythons' movements for a total of 5,119 days. From the data gathered, researchers measured the species' habitat range, which is an average of 22 kilometers inside the park.

"These high-use areas may be optimal locations for control efforts and further studies on the snakes' potential impacts on native wildlife," lead researcher Kristen Hart said.

Identifying patterns of habitat use among these invasive pythons is important in creating effective strategies to control spread, Hart added.

The team found out that Burmese pythons share similar areas with other pythons in the ecosystem, where they find similar prey and prefer the same environmental conditions.

For example, it is previously known that snakes prefer to stay in a coastal habitat that is both wet and dry and places with tree islands. This survey yielded the same findings.

They also discovered that 67 percent crossed the main road, according to GPS data, but only few individuals were reported to be seen.

This proves that they are difficult to see, Hart said.

This might be the reason that the last Burmese python hunt in 2013 produced only 68 snakes from 1,600 hunters across the country.

However, experts believe that the study will help them improve this number in the next hunt.

Native to Southeast Asian countries, Burmese pythons were first recorded in the Everglades in 1979, thanks to pet trade. They lack natural predators so they can easily multiply and cause decline in other native wildlife.

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