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Assessing risks to humans from invasive Burmese pythons in Everglades National Park, Florida, USA

Wildlife Society Bulletin

By:
and
DOI: 10.1002/wsb.413

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Abstract

Invasive Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) are now established across a large area of southern Florida, USA, including all of Everglades National Park (NP). The presence of these large-bodied snakes in the continental United States has attracted intense media attention, including regular reference to the possibility of these snakes preying on humans. Over the course of a decade (2003–2012), we solicited reports of apparently unprovoked strikes directed at humans in Everglades NP. We summarize the circumstances surrounding each of the 5 reported incidents, which occurred between 2006 and 2012. All strikes were directed toward biologists moving through flooded wetlands; 2 strikes resulted in minor injury and none resulted in constriction. We consider most of these strikes to be cases of “mistaken identity,” in which the python initiated a strike at a potential prey item but aborted its predatory behavior prior to constriction and ingestion. No strikes are known to have been directed at park visitors despite visitation rates averaging over one million per year during this period. We conclude that while risks to humans should not be completely discounted, the relative risk of a human being killed by a python in Everglades NP appears to be extremely low.

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Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Assessing risks to humans from invasive Burmese pythons in Everglades National Park, Florida, USA
Series title:
Wildlife Society Bulletin
DOI:
10.1002/wsb.413
Year Published:
2014
Language:
English
Description:
4 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Wildlife Society Bulletin
Country:
United States
State:
Florida
Other Geospatial:
Everglades National Park