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South Florida researchers use GPS-fitted possums and raccoons to capture invasive pythons: reports

Researchers in South Florida are reportedly working on a new method to track and capture invasive Burmese pythons using small mammals equipped with GPS devices.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that a group of researchers were observing raccoon and possum behavior on the edge of the Crocodile National Wildlife Refuge in Key Largo, about 40 miles south of Miami.

FILE – A Burmese python is held during a safe capture demonstration in Miami on June 16, 2022. More than 800 competitors will roam the Florida Everglades over the next eight days in search of exotic Burmese pythons that will bring in thousands of dollars in prizes. The python hunt officially started on his Friday, August 5th and will continue until August 15th. Officials gathering in Miami to kick off the annual campaign say this is important because the invasive snakes are killing birds and mammals in the Everglades ecosystem. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

All of the small animals the researchers are observing have GPS collars, allowing the team to track the location of the possums and raccoons.

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About five months later, the researchers had a bit of a breakthrough when the collar of one possum used in the field suddenly stopped working for several hours and then started working again.

The lack of movement triggered what researchers called death signals, but when it started moving again, researchers had a hunch that the small mammal might have been eaten by a snake. told the Tampa Bay Times.

Cove is working on this project with members of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Southern Illinois University.

Ali Skipper Orlando Python Apartment

Ali Skipper Orlando Python Apartment (Alice Skipper)

It was thought that the python had digested the possum before it migrated and thus remained in the area – there was a GPS tracker among them.

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It took the researchers a month to find the tracker while the snake crawled in and out of Key Largo’s cave labyrinth, but when they did find it, it was a 12-foot-long, 66-pound female full of follicles. I found a python. Such a snake can lay 100 eggs, and catching one and removing it from the ecosystem will prevent the introduction of hundreds of future snakes into the ecosystem. can be prevented.

After euthanizing the snake, researchers were able to open it up and retrieve the collar, which could be attached to another possum at a later date, The Times reported.

Researchers have found that collars fitted to small mammals give them a new way to track Burmese pythons from Southeast Asia, which were introduced to the Everglades in the 1990s.

The Asian python appears in the rivers of Nepal.

The Asian python appears in the rivers of Nepal. (iStock)

According to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Burmese pythons are not native to the Sunshine State, and their presence in the Everglades ecosystem and southern Florida adversely affects native species. Because a female Burmese python can lay her 50-100 eggs at a time.

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The FWC reports that more than 17,000 wild Burmese pythons have been removed from Florida since 2000.

In October, the state held the 2022 Florida Python Challenge, trapping and removing dozens of snakes from the ecosystem. The winner of the challenge was his 19-year-old man, who caught 28 of the 231 fish in the 10-day challenge and earned $10,000.

Researchers told The Times that this method of hunting pythons cannot eradicate snakes from Florida, but it has been proven to attract larger female snakes using larger raccoons and larger male possums. It is claimed to be the closest to the method of

The challenge is to create a collar that stays inside the python’s body and does not pass through the digestive system. One of the ideas he’s been working on is a tracker with zip ties that get caught in a snake’s digestive tract.

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Currently, the collars cost $1,500 each and have a lifespan of two years, and researchers hope to eventually take advantage of the cheaper VHS collars at a cost of $200 each.

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