Not a Bad Movie: Snakes on the Plains

Keep your cats and dogs indoors. If you see a burmese python, do not engage it; evacuate the area and contact local authorities. This is not Hollywood...unless you count the fact that Hollywood also lies in the potential range which may be invaded by these huge snakes, non-native to US soils. The US Geological Survey has published maps predicting that burmese pythons currently breeding in the wild in the USA could spread across all of the lower USA. With a little help from climate change, the pythons could range as far north as Virginia.Scientists worry that the invading reptiles could threaten indigenous endangered species. In the Florida Everglades, Key Largo woodrats and round-tailed muskrats have been eaten by pythons, making the recovery of sparse remaining populations even more difficult. The snakes, which can grow to 20 feet and 250 pounds, bite their prey to anchor themselves and then kill by constricting before eating their catch whole.

Burmese pythons are another example of the dangers of trade in exotic species. Originally sold as pets, many owners release the snakes into the wild when they tire of caring them. Amazingly, this is occurring often enough that the snakes have established breeding colonies, the first step towards spreading out into their new environment.

The subject of invasive species troubles environmentalists. Read about rescuing threatened reefs, alien dangers hidden in firewood and prevention strategies elsewhere in TreeHugger.

Via ::USGS and ::USA Today

Tags: Endangered Species | Extinction | Florida

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