Snakes in Doral: What should we do?

Python mating season is from January to April.

 

 

By: Maria Alejandra Pulgar

@marialepulgarwrites

 

Para leer en Español

Burmese Python snakes have arrived to Doral and are here to stay, unless the community learns how to be aware and timely follow the right steps to have them removed and humanely terminated, before they reproduce and become more difficult to control.

These animals are not endemic to the Florida ecosystems. ”They were introduced in the 80’s and 90’s by people who purchased them as pets and, when they became unmanageable for their size and appetite, they disposed them in the Everglades”, explained Federico Arrosa, one of the snake hunters who work for the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to help control the Burmese Python population.

Florida Everglades National Park is an ecosystem unique in the world, revered and cared for by the natives in the area for hundreds of years. The wildlife original of the Everglades includes the Florida Panther, American Alligator and American Crocodile; the Whitetail Deer, Swamp Rats, Grass Frogs, Wood Storks, and Bald Eagles, among other species that live in these swamps and mangroves, making it the “largest surviving subtropical wilderness in the contiguous United States”.

Pythons do not belong to this environment and have been causing a negative impact. They need to be constrained before they become unmanageable. As the mating season for these animals takes place from January to April, this is a good time to learn about their behavior and how to hunt them before their population increases more. The State of Florida has implemented official hunting seasons and procedures to that purpose. 

 

Behavior and impact of Burmese Pythons

Expert hunters consulted explained the behavior of these animals and the elements needed to hunt them before they cause more harm to the South Florida environment or continue moving into higher populated areas like Doral, Homestead, etc.

Burmese pythons can grow to 20 feet long; they mate once a year between January and April. A female lies between 30 and 100 eggs. The mother stays in the nest around two months (May to June) until the eggs hatch in the summer months (July-August), when it is easier to catch them as they approach dryer lands looking for food.

They linger in or nearby water bodies; they mate and nest in dark, hidden places like holes in decks or waterfront areas where grass is high, like the channels and lakes nearby the Florida Turnpike, where they have been seen recently. They do not try to enter houses. Pythons have decimated the population of small animals such as mice, rabbits and raccoons in the everglade and nearby land, causing them to migrate towards the west, to more urban areas.

A hungry python in an urban area can eat dogs, cats, birds and even small children. They are not venomous, but they are dangerous and lethal. They strangle their prey before eating them, and their bite is strong. While a python’s bite, deep and hard, may not kill an adult human, it can get infected or bleed profusely. Pythons need to be handled by professionals in order to capture and kill them as soon as possible after they are seen.

The growing presence of Burmese Pythons in Florida has unbalanced the food chain of the Everglades. Their strength and appetite have made them almost top of the predators, which is their role in the jungle, while the natural predators in the Everglades are the alligators and panthers. As there is no natural way to control the python’s reproduction, they need to be hunt and killed to control their population in an environment where they do not belong.

Based on the amount of reports of python sightings received recently, experts in wildlife estimate the amount of snakes in the Doral area might be approaching the hundreds.

 

What to do if you see a Burmese Python nearby

Which authority to call when there is a sighting of a python snake? Procedures are different from those in case of alligators, crocodiles or other emergencies. Calling only the local police, firefighters or elected officials is not going to speed the capture of a wild animal. Whereas reporting to the local authorities should be done, other wildlife management organizations must be contacted first to solve the situation quickly.

Pythons are not endangered species and moreover they are dangerous for the Florida ecosystem and a nuisance to the population. To be successful, the hunt and kill operation needs to be done as soon as the snake has been located, because they move fast. Upon seeing a python snake experts recommend:

  • Do not make noise, and keep your distance.
  • Take a picture of the animal and its location.
  • Call the SFWMD immediately so that they can send an authorized and experienced hunter right away. The assigned hunter will arrive within an hour to catch the python before it runs away. Contact numbers: 800-432-2045 / 561-686-8800 / 240-818-1008 (Mike Kirkland – Chief Hunter) / 786-521-2114 (Federico Arrosta – Hunter) / 305-3365957 or 786-525-4064 (Gator and Snake Hunters)
  • Report to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC). They take between 12 to 24 hours to arrive and record the amount of snake sightings in the area. Phone: (850) 488-4676 or Email to Python Management Specialist:  Pythons@MyFWC.com.
  • Do not try to run it over with a car, catch it or kill it yourself with a firearm, only trained hunters have the tools to do it in a humane and effective way.
  • In case of seeing gators nearby, follow steps 1 and 2 and then notify FWC Gator Nuisance hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286). They will come, remove and dispose of the gator, as the species has reached a healthy and stable population in Florida.

2 thoughts on “Snakes in Doral: What should we do?

  • January 19, 2023 at 5:11 am
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    People sometimes mistake the native corn snake which think max out at 6 feet with small pythons so wonder if the python sightings are mostly corns .

    As most do not know the difference .

    I have seen corn snakes though rare in an area by a canal I sometimes fish by .

    Granted pythons are in Florida but so are native corns and king snakes which again think max at 6 feet .

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