Some python deaths attributed to alligators, study says

Reporter: Amy Galo Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

A new study shows that some alligators have baby Burmese pythons on their menu.

The U.S. Geological Survey study shows that some baby Burmese python deaths were attributed to alligators and other native predators.

“We weren’t sure if native species would identify pythons as a food source,” said Mark Sandfoss, U.S. geological survey biologist and python research lead.

Throughout the study, 19 hatchlings died. Over half was done by native animals.

Alligators killed five: three by cottonmouths, another three by meso-mammals, and one by a hispid cotton rat, but not before the small rodent was swallowed by the python first.

“It presumably killed the python after it had been swallowed but before it died,” said Andrew Durso, FGCU wildlife biology.

So, does this mean native animals could help solve the python issue?

“I do think there’s the potential for some false hope. I don’t think we have any evidence that there’s more predation on pythons now than there was in the past,” Durso said.

“Because we’re not able to follow hundreds of individuals, it’s hard to really know what that means in terms of survival,” Sandfoss said.

Data on invasive pythons is scarce, so studies like this matter.

“We’re doing so much to try and manage them, but we really need to have better information on survival and dispersal in order to understand what our management activities actually mean for python control,” Sandfoss said.

Sandfoss said the USGS is currently working on another study. They released about 49 tracked python hatchlings in August and are already down to just 14.

He said their biggest finding is that they’re dying, and what that truly means remains a mystery.

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