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

Kate Messner (Author)

Product Details

Millbrook Press (Tm)
Publish Date
March 03, 2020
10.8 X 0.5 X 9.0 inches | 1.2 pounds
Library Binding

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About the Author

Kate Messner is a former middle-school English teacher and the author of E. B. White Read Aloud Award winner The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. and its companion, The Exact Location of Home; Sugar and Ice; Eye of the Storm; Wake Up Missing; All the Answers; The Seventh Wish; Capture the Flag; Hide and Seek; the Marty McGuire chapter book series; the Ranger in Time chapter book series; and several picture books. She lives on Lake Champlain with her husband and two kids. When she's not reading or writing, she loves hiking, kayaking, biking, and watching thunderstorms over the lake.


"Scientists wrestle 100-pound snakes, wade through swamps, perform delicate surgery, and fly in small planes searching for Burmese pythons hiding and multiplying in southern Florida. The baleful python on the cover will draw readers in, and Messner's recurring descriptions of the snake-catchers in action will keep them engaged. She introduces the team from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida with an account of a tracking expedition. She explains why South Florida is a "perfect home" for these large predators and how the scientists capture snakes, implant radio transmitters, release them, and then follow them in the wild to find other pythons. She notes their affection for the snakes as well as their sadness that part of their job involves euthanizing females in an effort to keep this invasive apex predator from eating nearly everything else living in the delicate Florida ecosystem. She places this campaign in the context of worldwide efforts against invasive species. Well-captioned photographs, maps, and diagrams break up the text and add information. Videos of some of the episodes described are available via QR codes scattered throughout. In a page of profiles of the participating scientists (two men, two women, all apparently white), all four are shown holding huge snakes. This fascinating example of field biology holds its own against the exemplary Scientists in the Field series. Who knew that snake science could be so adventurous?"--starred, Kirkus Reviews


"As Burmese pythons thrive in south Florida, they decimate native wildlife and disrupt the natural ecosystem. Scientists speculate that this invasive species was introduced by pet owners who no longer wanted or could care for these snakes. Florida's climate, swamps, and plentiful food provide the perfect breeding ground for the pythons, whose numbers have become a staggering, unmanageable problem. Veteran children's author Messner was curious to learn more about the python problem and what was being done to control their growing numbers. In this photo-rich examination, she heads to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, where researchers are busy locating pythons (easier said than done), inserting transmitters in male snakes, euthanizing females and small snakes, and destroying eggs when they find them. She accompanies python project manager Ian Bartoszek and his crew on their daily treks into the swamps and observes their work in the lab. Messner's compelling photo-essay gives an inside look at the researchers' hot, dirty, grueling (and often frustrating) work and offers an extensive bibliography for further research."--Booklist