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July 03 , 2010

Snake in the Grass

An Everglades Invasion


A plague is spreading throughout the Florida Everglades. The nonnative Burmese python—one of the largest snakes on the planet—is now known to be reproducing freely in the shallow waters of the famed River of Grass. Over the past decade, thousands of pythons have made themselves at home across the landscape. And though scientists work feverishly to learn as much as possible about this unprecedented invader, methods of control remain elusive.

Many questions remain in the wake of this troubling discovery. How far north might Burmese pythons venture from the Everglades wilderness? What might their presence mean for the countless birds and mammals—some of them endangered—with which south Florida has become synonymous? And does history seem poised to repeat itself as new, large reptiles are discovered to be thriving in the area’s favorable climate? An Everglades naturalist describes how the story unfolding in the Florida Everglades provides new opportunities to revisit our understanding of wilderness and man’s place within it.

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