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They're doing WHAT to pythons? Naples Zoo goes high-tech to track

Zoo is using technology to "spy" on the invasive species
Posted at 7:37 AM, Jul 04, 2024

NAPLES, Fla. — Naples Zoo and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida are working to rescue the Florida Everglades. And part of that process is cutting down on the number of pythons.

"They are invasive," Dr. Kelsi Stovall said.

Dr. Stovall is a veterinarian at the Glass Animal Hospital at the Naples Zoo. Here she is, putting a python to sleep so she can do surgery on it.

Naples Zoo tracking pythons
Naples Zoo will put microchips into invasive pythons to track them

The plan is to make a few pythons spies, so they can help crews find more pythons and ultimately stop them from breeding and taking over the Everglades.

She took Fox 4's Naples Community Correspondent, Dominga Murray, behind the scenes to show us how the plan works.

FOX 4's Dominga Murray and Dr. Stovall

It starts with Dr. Stovall and her team putting microchips into several male pythons, then letting them back into the wild.

Naples Zoo tracking pythons
Naples Zoo will put microchips into invasive pythons to track them

"Researchers go out with radio antennas and literally track the individual transmitter frequencies and go out and look for them," she said.

But it's not just the males they're looking for. The hope is that the males will lead them to female pythons.

"The females can lay hundreds of eggs at a time so if we can get the females either out of the population, or get their nests out of the population that immediately cuts back on hundreds of new pythons," Dr. Stovall said.

BEHIND THE SCENES: Why Naples Zoo is chipping pythons

These researchers say it's important work, if we're to restore the balance of predator and prey in a fragile everglades environment.