We are so excited to announce the newest members of our education team! They are scaly, slithery, and weigh less than a pound. They prefer to be held together, and they like to give gentle hugs with their tails. Meet Cypress and Cedar! These two peas in a pod will help our education team teach about invasive Burmese pythons in Southwest Florida.
Cute, right!?! That’s part of the problem.
Originally from Southeast Asia, Burmese pythons were brought to Florida starting in the 1970s through the pet trade. Adorable baby pythons, like Cypress and Cedar, were appealing to snake enthusiasts and quickly became a highly desired pet. However, due to their insatiable diet and fast growth rate, people soon realized they don’t stay little and cute for long! As snakes began to grow to large lengths of 12–14 feet and began to outgrow their accommodations, pet owners began releasing them into the wild. Their tolerance for the hot and humid climates of South Florida provided an ideal environment for these snakes to flourish.
Now with established populations, Burmese pythons are making large impacts on native mammal and bird populations in South Florida. Aside from their ravenous diets, their unique maternal behaviors aid in the survival of their young. Each spring, female pythons will stay with their eggs, guarding them until the moment they are ready to hatch. In the summer, baby pythons will emerge from their soft, leathery eggs and begin the quest for their first meal of mice, rats, and rabbits. Once they get some food in their bellies, they grow quickly. As they get larger, the potential for them to be consumed by predators is less likely. All it takes is one Cypress or Cedar to survive 2 to 5 years to reach sexual maturity and begin producing offspring of their own. According to Florida Fish and Wildlife (2021), one python may contribute to a clutch of 50 to 100 young each year.
Thanks to the efforts of our Python Research Team, Cypress and Cedar are two fewer pythons contributing to the Burmese python invasion in Southwest Florida. In our care, they will be used as a teaching tool for audiences of all ages. They will teach locals about the impact these invasive species have on ecosystems right outside their backdoor. They will show guests from around the world the impacts our actions can have on the environment. And, most importantly, they will help encourage children to be advocates for conservation. With their calm demeanor and charming faces, we are extremely excited to have these new ambassador animals to share with the world!
While our Nature Center is currently closed to the public, you can help support our animals by becoming a member and donating to the Conservancy. Also be sure to visit us on Facebook and Instagram for updates on wildlife hospital patients, fun animal facts, and more!
If you come across a Burmese python in the wild it is important to report your sightings. In the event you have a python in your sights, snap a picture, note your location, and call 1–888-IVE-GOT1. You can also report sightings via www.ivegot1.org or through the IveGot1 mobile application.