Wednesday, April 29, 2015

So, where do Burmese pythons hang out?

While Burmese pythons (Python molurus ssp. bivittatus) are well established in the Everglades, there really hasn't been much data on where they are within it.  USGS researchers caught 19 pythons, impalnted them with a radio transmitters and GPS tags, and released them close to their original capture location.  The snakes were tracked for 5,119 days.

Burmese python (Python molurus ssp. bivittatus) by Lori Oberhofer, National Park Service,

Unexpectedly, the pythons were found to have a large home range, roughly 22 square kilometers (8.5 sq mi) but home ranges of the snakes can overlap in some habitat-use areas.  The pythons were most concentrated in slough and coastal habitats and the snakes tended to move the most during dry conditions.  Tree islands, areas of patchy woody vegetation within a freshwater wetland, were especially frequented by the pythons, potentially due to the opportunity to prey upon the small mammals and birds that frequent them and the shaded, structured habitat they provide.  To date, tree islands haven't been extensively searched due to their thick vegetation and rough terrain, but with this new data, it certainly suggested.

Images of Burmese pythons: Python molurus ssp. bivittatus
Map of Burmese sightings: Burmese pythons on EDDMapS