With population estimates as high as 300,000 in southern Florida, the Burmese python has gone from exotic pet to established apex predator is as little as 30 years.
With an average length of 12 to 13 feet, pythons have few predators besides alligators and humans. In regions with established populations, sightings of raccoons, foxes, bobcats and other mammals declined between 88 and 100 percent. Even birds and deer have been found inside pythons killed by park officials.
"Burmese pythons are cracking the code on the Southwest Florida habitat, learning how to survive and breed locally," the Conservancy of Southwest Florida said in a press release.
A hunt earlier this year removed several dozen snakes from the wild, including one measuring more than 16 feet long.