Invasive (and Dangerous) Species Alert: African Rock Pythons Invading South Florida


African rock python eating a goat, photo: Mango Atchar via flick

First it was Burmese pythons (remember those photos of one eating an alligator), now another giant snake is setting up shop in Florida. National Geographic News reports that Africa's largest snake, the 20 foot long African rock python appears to have begun establishing itself in a suburban area west of Miami:Since 2002 six have been discovered, but most troubling is that recently one pregnant female and two hatchlings were found, indicating that the snakes are have begun breeding in the wild.

Threat to Native Animals, Pets, Small Children
The African rock python is recognized as a bad-tempered snake -- "so mean they come out of the egg striking" is how the senior herpetologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History, Kenneth Krysko described them -- and is a threat to "almost any warm-blooded animal that is big enough to ingest" according a wildlife biologist at the USGS quoted in the original piece. That includes pets and small children, according to Florida DEP.

A Bigger Nightmare Than Burmese Pythons
To put this in some perspective, in terms of the effect of invasive animal species, Krysko described the arrival and spread of the Burmese python as being "the biggest and most devastating problem that Florida ever could have imagined. Now we have a worse one."

So how did the snakes get released to the wild? Krysko speculates that pet breeders, unprepared for the ferocity of this particular snake, may have gotten fed up and released them.

More: National Geographic News
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Tags: Animals | Florida | Pets | United States

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