Areas With Pythons Show Decrease in Small Mammals: Study

Between 2003 and 2011, areas where the number of pythons grew saw a 99 percent decrease in raccoons

By Karen Franklin
|  Tuesday, Jan 31, 2012  |  Updated 10:52 PM EDT
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A 13-foot Burmese Python was found in a pool of a Palmetto Bay pool.

A 13-foot Burmese Python was found in a pool of a Palmetto Bay pool.

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A report by several scientists says that areas in the Everglades where the invasive python population grew experienced a decrease in the number of small mammals, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Between 2003 and 2011, areas where the number of pythons grew saw a 99 percent decrease in raccoons, 98 percent decrease in opossums, 94 percent decrease in white-tailed deer and 87 percent decrease in bobcats, according to the study.

The report, which was carried out through road surveys and counting animals, said there were no rabbits or foxes in the area.

The study is the first of its kind to research the ecological impact of the pythons, the newspaper said. The researchers compared the numbers of today’s small mammals with numbers from several studies in the 1990s.

Frank Mazzotti, a co-author of the study, said that he remembers when marsh rabbits were plentiful in the Everglades, according to the Times.

Mazzotti, however, said that the scientists need to make sure the decrease was a result of the pythons and not environmental conditions. He worries that the results of this report could affect the animals that eat the disappearing mammals.

The study "paints a stark picture of the real damage that Burmese pythons are causing to native wildlife and the Florida economy," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement.

On Jan. 17, federal and state officials were in Miami to announce the banning of the importation of Burmese pythons, yellow anacondas and northern and southern African pythons.

"These giant constrictor snakes do not belong in the Everglades," Sen. Bill Nelson said.

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