Snake-Hunting Labradors Rid Everglades of Invasive Pythons

Eager to please their human handlers, obedient Labrador teams have a 92 percent success rate at locating the snakes.

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snake-hunting dogs, snake-hunting labradors, dogs and smake, people holding snake
A snake's worst nightmare? These two labradors, Jake and Ivy. (Photo: Oanow)

Sometimes when man creates a huge problem that destroys the balance of the ecosystem, man’s best friend must come in and sort it out.

Oanow reports that Jake and Ivy, two Labradors from Alabama's Auburn University, were recently called to the swamps of Florida to find a formidable non-native species: the Burmese Python.

Brought to Florida by the exotic pet trade, and set free in the Everglades, the Southeast Asian snakes are normally about 12 feet long but can reach lengths of up to 19 feet.

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Opportunistic eaters, pythons have all but wiped out marsh rabbits, opossums, and raccoons in the southern region of Everglades National Park, according to a nine-year study.

Terry Fischer and Craig Angle of Auburn’s EcoDog program traveled to Florida to pick up samples of the species’ scent and then imprinted the dogs with the essence of Burmese python.

“We found the use of detection dogs to be a valuable addition to the current tools used to manage and control pythons,” said Christina Romagosa, of AU’s School of Forestry and Wildlife, in a press release. The dogs can detect pythons from a distance and when they spot one they stop in their tracks and crouch. The pythons’ reaction is strangely poignant. Rather than striking when discovered, they curl up and hide.

“It’s their first line of defense,” said Melissa Miller, biological sciences doctoral student who handled the snakes. “People think when you catch a snake it’s going to come back biting at you...but they see us as a predator even though they’re a large snake.”

So far Jake and Ivy have located 19 pythons, one of which had 19 eggs.

Comments

16
When the Auburn researchers returned to Alabama, the Police stopped them, determined that the dogs were undocumented, and will be deporting them to Labrador.
OH BOY!!!! GREAT NEWS. 2 captured, 99,998 to go!!!
If you want to get rid of the snakes just call PETA in. They will take the snakes away under the guise of finding them a new home and then just kill them. Same thing they do to thousand of dogs and cats every year. Oh yeah. They will tell you they were all sick and it was for their own good. Check it out for yourself.
Exotic pet trade out of control due to smugglers and people wanting exotic pets that have no idea what it takes to properly care for snakes including the proper enclosure. Perhaps too little to late, however I applaud the effort.
Terry Fischer and Craig Angle of Auburn’s EcoDog program traveled to Florida to pick up samples of the species’ scent and returned to America to imprint the dogs with the essence of Burmese python. I WONDER IF their PASSPORTS will get them into NEW MEXICO, too? BTW: Washington is a STATE..NOT A DISTRICT. Oregon is pronounced OR-E-gun and not or-E-GONE. Fascinating subject, geography; the author may take note of one day.
Haha! Doesn't the author know that Florida is in America?
"pythons have escaped captivity" Actually, a great deal of them weren't accidentally released. They were discarded when the owners no longer that it was 'cool' to have a snake that weighs almost as much as they do, or in some cases more. Plus they realized that feeding something that big can get a little costly. The exotic pet trade should step up or be forced to step up and bare some of the burden of what has turned into an ecological emergency in the Everglades. The press keeps treating this like it is some sort of human interest story. This is a serious situation. I commend the people involved in the attempt to eradicate the "invasive species", (that still makes it sound like it's the snakes fault.)
Congratulations on catching this python snake. These snakes are non-venomous constrictor found in tropical and subtropical Asia, Africa, and Australia. They were introduced into USA, South America, and Europe as pets. In Florida, pythons have escaped captivity and are a nuisance in Everglades where they are becoming far too abundant. source: pythonsnake.org
Terry Fischer and Craig Angle of Auburn’s EcoDog program traveled to Florida to pick up samples of the species’ scent and returned to America to imprint the dogs with the essence of Burmese python.
"Terry Fischer and Craig Angle of Auburn’s EcoDog program traveled to Florida to pick up samples of the species’ scent and returned to Australia to imprint the dogs with the essence of Burmese python." Still says Austrailia plain as day there Mr True American
True American. "returned to Australia to imprint the dogs with the essence of Burmese python.
Sorry! I meant to write Alabama, not Australia. Jocelyn
Actualy, the article said Auburn University is in 'Alambama'. Oops! Snakes alive!
No where in the article did the writer say "Australia"???? ....are we reading the same article about the dogs who hunt pythons in the everglades?
Very cool !!! btw, Auburn University is in Alabama - not Australia :)
Very cool !!! btw, Auburn University is in Alabama - not Australia :)