Although human interference and habitat destruction pose the greatest threats to the American birds of the Everglades, the Burmese Python comes in a close second. Not natural to the United States, the introduction of this foreign species has proved to be detrimental to Everglades National Park, constantly threatening the native plant and animal species that conservationists have worked diligently to protect.
The first documented appearance of a Burmese Python in the area was in the 1980s, and most likely occurred due to intentional or accidental release by someone keeping one as an exotic pet. Because the Everglades so closely resembles their natural habitat, this species of python has thrived here – unfortunate news for the mammals, birds, and lizards that have always called the Everglades home. The Burmese Python is such an effective predator, they have even been known to feed on alligators – the previous contender for the spot on the top of the Everglades food chain.
Complete eradication of the Burmese Python is now considered impossible, with some population estimates reaching over 100,000, and will mostly likely be a major concern in southern Florida for many years to come. The best thing that residents of and visitors to southern Florida can do is to educate themselves about this fragile eco-stystem. If everyone understands how their seemingly simple actions can often have great impacts on the environment and its inhabitants, than we can all work together to ensure that the Everglades provides a hospitable habitat to its flying residents for many years to come.
Often the best way to learn about the Everglades is through an Everglades National Park boat tour. The guides who run these Everglades City airboat tours are often the leading experts in the area, making education fun and something that the whole family can enjoy together.