If you read the news these days, it’s hard not to notice that Florida is under attack by invasive reptiles. Of particular interest to WS and its stakeholders are Burmese pythons and Nile monitor lizards. Both species eat a variety of prey and have the potential to cause severe ecological impacts. Currently, there are no established, systematic methods for controlling either species; however, NWRC researchers, are working to identify and leverage tools that have been effectively used to control invasive brown treesnakes on Guam.
“NWRC laboratory studies have shown that the same acetaminophen baits used on Guam to control invasive brown treesnakes are also lethal to juvenile Nile monitor lizards and Burmese pythons,” notes recently retired NWRC researcher Dr. Pete Savarie. “However, Florida is very different from Guam and we need to find baits that are highly preferred by these species in the wild.”
Of the nine bait matrices tested, six were well accepted by the monitors in both fresh and aged conditions. These included dead neonatal mice, dead quail chicks, ground turkey, chicken liver, tilapia, and zebra finch eggs. Only the fresh dead neonatal mice and fresh dead quail chicks were well accepted by the pythons. The next step will involve testing these baits, as well as appropriate delivery systems that are selective for these invasive reptiles, in natural settings in Florida.