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Tracking Pythons: The Quest to Catch an Invasive Predator and Save an Ecosystem

By: Kate Messner

Burmese pythons are native to Southeast Asia, so when one showed up dead along the side of a Florida highway in 1979, scientists wondered where it came from. No one knew the snakes had launched a full-scale invasion. Pet pythons that escaped or were released by their owners started breeding in the wild, and these enormous predators began eating every animal in their path. Today a group of scientists at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida is tracking Burmese pythons to find ways to stop their spread. Page Plus links lead to video clips and photos of the scientists working in the field. Delve into the science of pythons and their role as invasive predators.

Author’s note. “Invasive Species Most Wanted List.” Time line. Glossary. Source notes. Bibliography. Further reading. Index. Full-color photographs.

ISBN: 9781541557062

JLG Release: May 2020


Sensitive Areas: Illustrations/Images: Blood/Gore
Topics: Burmese python , Florida , Predatory animals , Animal control , Ecosystem management , Herpetology

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Kirkus Reviews*, School Library Journal, The Horn Book Magazine

School Library Journal

Ever dreamed of wading through bushes and vines in search of an 11-foot snake, specifically a Burmese python? This book takes readers into the thick of South Florida’s fragile ecosystem and follows scientists on their mission to study and help control the population of this invasive species. It is predicted that as many as 300,000 of these snakes Ever dreamed of wading through bushes and vines in search of an 11-foot snake, specifically a Burmese python? This book takes readers into the thick of South Florida’s fragile ecosystem and follows scientists on their mission to study and help control the population of this invasive species. It is predicted that as many as 300,000 of these snakes live in the wild, where they are wreaking havoc on the native population. Messner has collected wonderful diagrams and photographs to help illustrate the importance of the work of these scientists. The layout provides sidebars that discuss topics such as a python’s body structure, how the scientists’ tracking system works, and “How to Catch a Python.” The book is broken into seven chapters. Each focuses on a particular aspect of the scientists’ process and research methods. One series of photographs shows a snake and its last meal—a full-size deer. An extensive bibliography and suggested further reading are included. Messner’s well-written and -documented book will fascinate any nature lover, but younger readers who love snakes will be thrilled.

Horn Book

This thoroughly engrossing field guide takes readers into the "scrublands and swamps" of South Florida, where scientists are battling the explosive population growth of Burmese pythons, an invasive species from Southeast Asia. Messner writes vividly about the ecosystem of South Florida ("a place that insists on being wild") and the serious effects This thoroughly engrossing field guide takes readers into the "scrublands and swamps" of South Florida, where scientists are battling the explosive population growth of Burmese pythons, an invasive species from Southeast Asia. Messner writes vividly about the ecosystem of South Florida ("a place that insists on being wild") and the serious effects that these non-native reptile "eating machines" have on indigenous animals. And she covers a lot of ground here, discussing everything from the python's life cycle to the history of its invasion of Florida to the conclusions gleaned from a python necropsy. But the real highlight is an in-depth look at the radio telemetry project conducted by researchers at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, by which the scientists find an "unlikely ally" in a group of captured male pythons tagged with radio transmitters. Messner shares profiles of the scientis and —notably—of many of the tagged snakes (Argo, Elvis, Stella, and others), a nod to the affection and respect the researchers have for these reptiles: "It's not so much now the Burmese python. This is now our Everglades python. It's our creature." Visuals—maps, diagrams, photographs, and QR codes for online videos—abound, and the back matter is extensive, with an author's note, an "Invasive Species Most Wanted List," a Burmese python invasion timeline, a glossary, a bibliography, further reading suggestions, and an index.

Book Details

ISBN

9781541557062

First Release

May 2020

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

597.96

Trim Size

10 3/4" x 9"

Page Count

64

Accelerated Reader

N/A

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

Level 1110L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Library edition

Publisher

Millbrook Press

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Illustrations/Images: Blood/Gore

Topics

Burmese python, Florida, Predatory animals, Animal control, Ecosystem management, Herpetology,

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