In the case of exotic pets, the Burmese python is one of the more popular among Floridians. But what happens when the pet pythons get too big or become unmanageable in other ways?
Unfortunately, owners of the giant snakes have released them into the Everglades, thereby upsetting the subtropical wetlands, according to the Associated Press. The number of Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades could run into the "tens of thousands." Large amounts of "raccoons, opossums, bobcats and other mammals" have been eaten by the carnivorous reptiles, and scientists fear the situation will worsen.
* Native to Southeast Asia, the Burmese python came to America as part of the pet trade, as reported at USA Today. They first appeared in the Florida Everglades in the mid-1990s.
* The snakes' natural habitat, according to the Chicago Zoological Society, is "grasslands, swamps, marshes, rocky foothills, forests, and jungle and river valleys."
* According to National Geographic, the giant snakes reach up to 23 feet or more and can weigh up to 200 pounds.
* The exotic pets eat by wrapping their bodies around their prey and tightening the grip every time the prey exhales, as reported at Chicago Zoological Society. When its victim has stopped breathing, the Burmese python swallows it whole.
* National Geographic reports that these snakes are excellent swimmers. They can stay underwater for at least 30 minutes.
* Getting attacked by a snake is one of the scariest thoughts, but according to USA Today the Burmese python is not poisonous or considered a danger to humans. Of humans who have been attacked, they have been pet owners who did not care for their snakes correctly, such as not feeding them properly.
* Although female Burmese pythons stay with their eggs, that can number up to 100, two to three months, the adult snakes are loners who are seen together typically only during spring mating season, as reported at National Geographic.
* Releasing the carnivorous reptiles into the Everglades has cost Floridians dearly. According to the Everglades Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, the cost has been over $500 million each year. In addition, $50 million is spent each year to "eradicate exotic weeds from [the] fields, pastures, public lands and water ways." Says ECISMA, "More than an inconvenience, invasive plants and animals can greatly alter our native landscape, adversely impact native wildlife, destroy agricultural crops and threaten our health."