Python Hunters In South Florida Have A New Way To Track The Giant Snakes And It Involves Possums

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Invasive Pythons are a real problem in Florida, but now, hunters may have a new way to track them.

If you guessed that this new method of tracking involves dead possums, that’s a weird guess, but a correct one.

Researchers in Key Largo have realized that possums fitted with GPS collars could help to track pythons. The possums — as well as raccoons — were originally given collars as part of a study to gain insight into their behavior.

This is good because — as I’ve been saying for years — of all the things scientists could spend time trying to figure out, the behavioral habits of medium-sized rodents is at the top of the list.

That planned research into what possums and raccoons do when they’re not tipping over trash cans or getting hit by cars took a turn. Researchers noticed one possum’s collar sent out a mortality signal due to lack of movement. This sounds like the oldest trick in the possum playbook, but as it turns out this one really was dead.

However, it started moving again. One of the researchers told the South Florida SunSentinel that this usually means the possum was on the menu for a hungry python.

Invasive pythons are a massive problem in Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Tracking Prey Could Be A Big Tool For Python Hunters

They did have a bit of a problem. Seeing as Key Largo is essentially a fossilized coral reef, there are tons of places for a python to hide underground.

“This thing was underground. It took a month of tracking the snake underground [to capture it],” researcher Michael Cove said.

Eventually, python hunters managed to haul the snake out of the ground. In this instance, the 12-foot, 66-pound female python came with egg follicles. Hundreds of them.

This is the python-hunting equivalent of trying to get one pack of Skittles out of vending machine and having a second one come tumbling out with it. Except in this case, there are over a hundred eggs.

That’s a big deal given how invasive pythons have become. So, euthanizing that one snake and disposing of its eggs kept dozens upon dozens of snakes from multiplying exponentially.

This whole possum-fueled snake hunt showed researchers that a new way to track pythons could be to track their prey instead.

Hey whatever works. Invasive pythons are a huge problem. If possums can prove to be more useful than just playing dead and being creepy, then it’s a win-win in my book.

Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle

Written by Matt Reigle

Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.

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