Authors: (Michael E. Dorcas and John D. Willson, Davidson College, NC, USA and others)
Abstract: The Burmese python (Python molurus bivittatus) is native to southern Asia and is one of the largest snakes in the world. Burmese pythons are now established firmly as an invasive species over a large portion of southern Florida. Since recognition as a reproducing population in 2000, the number of pythons found and their geographic range has expanded considerably. Pythons already appear to have caused severe declines in several species of once common mammals (e.g., raccoons, opossums, rabbits, bobcats) but the overall impacts they will have on South Florida ecosystems remain unknown. The cryptic behavior of pythons poses substantial challenges to studying their biology and developing effective management approaches. In this chapter, we review much of the research conducted on pythons, highlight the main findings of that research, and describe a study we conducted to evaluate python behavior and detectability. We show that detectability of pythons is extremely low (1% or lower) and we discuss the implications of such a low detectability for future research and management of this potentially devastating invasive species.