Discovery.com, Feb. 22, 2008
Twenty-foot pythons could soon be on the march--or on the slither--to new parts of
Climate modeling for the year 2100 which shows the possible climate range for pythons moving northward and swallowing up northernmost parts of Texas and Arkansas, the southeast half of Kansas, the southern half of Missouri and parts of southern Illinois and Indiana. Further east the big snakes could comfortably creep through
Western states like
The climate maps do not take into account other factors which might keep pythons out, like appropriate food and habitat. Still, the snakes will likely take advantage of the changing climate and spread north wherever they can, said invasive snake expert Gordon Rodda of the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS)
The invasion of the pythons was first detected in 2003 when researchers discovered a self-sustaining population of Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades. The snakes are thought to be the offspring of a released pet.
Since then pythons have also been found in Big Cypress National Preserve north of
The pythons, which can grow more then 20 feet long and weight more than 250 pounds, are strangling and gulping down everything from endangered rodents to deer, panther cubs, opossums and alligators.
"This is a quantum leap" in snake size, said Rodda. "The largest snake in
Burmese pythons, a subspecies of the Indian python, can take in much larger prey than any North American native snake species.
"Alligators eat them and they eat alligators," Rodda said.
Large pythons are also capable of killing adult humans, he said, although they currently pose the most danger to endangered
"I'd be very concerned if I were a
"This makes it that much more difficult to recover these dwindling populations and restore the
USGS researchers are also looking into the potential for similar invasions by nine species of giant constrictors, including boa constrictors and yellow anacondas, which are common in the pet snake trade.