From rabbits to deer to even bobcats, invasive Burmese pythons appear to be eating through the Everglades’ supply of mammals, new research shows.
Since the giant constrictors took hold in Florida in 2000, many previously common mammals have plummeted in number—and some, such as cottontail rabbits, may be totally gone from some areas.
Scientists already knew from dissecting the 20-foot (6-meter) snakes that they prey on a wide range of species within Everglades National Park.
But this is “the first study to show that pythons are having impacts on prey populations—and unfortunately those impacts appear to be pretty dramatic,” said study leader Michael Dorcas, a herpetologist at Davidson College in North Carolina.
“We started the study after we realized, Man, we’re not seeing a lot of these animals around anymore,” Dorcas said.
But “when we did the calculations, we were pretty astonished.”