150,000 Pythons in Everglades of Florida Should Not Put Off Visitors, Say Park Officials

First Posted: Jul 17, 2014 05:11 AM EDT

A study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service researchers says people should not be scared of the world's largest reptile found in abundance in the Everglades National Park as they do not bite humans.

Every year a million people visit the Everglades National Park and not even a single report about snake bite has come so far from visitors who venture out in canoes, on foot and along trails. Python preys on other species like baby deer, birds and even alligators.

There are reports that the proliferating species have destroyed habitats and eaten endangered species like the wood stork.  A 2012 study documents a severe decline in a variety of mammal populations in the Everglades over the last eight years.

 The pythons are of African and Asian origin and this is not to say that they are not dangerous. African rock pythons, found in the park, should best be avoided as they are known to be 'mean'.

Herpetologists in the park have reported attacks but officials say they are mostly out of hunger and mistaken identity and not in defense. Pythons are known to be evasive of humans. USGS wildlife biologist and herpetologist, Bob Reed, explained to the Washington Post that snakes "rely on being secretive and evading detection as their primary means of avoiding interactions with people, and typically don't strike until provoked."

The population of pythons is estimated to be over 150,000 at the moment and officials say that the species have been reproducing in the area over a decade and dozens of new eggs have been found. Most pythons have been released in the area by pet owners who did not want them.

But park officials say that visitors just need to be a little careful. Park Superintendent Dan Kimball emphasized that pythons or any other snakes will not be allowed to spoil trips to one of America's greatest natural resources. "Visitor and staff safety is always our highest priority," he said, reports the Washington Post.

Approximately, 2000 python have been removed from everglades since 2002. A Python patrol was introduced in 2008 to somewhat control the damage.

Everglades park's Superintendent, Dan Kimball told the inquisitr that they are taking measures to  keep the snakes under control: "With respect to controlling Burmese pythons, we are working diligently with our state, federal, tribal, and local partners to manage this invasive species and educate the public on the importance of not letting invasive species loose in the wild."

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