Balmy, With a Chance of Pythons

Dumped American pets thriving in wild on global warming

By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 21, 2008 9:16 AM CST

(Newser) – Burmese pythons could rapidly establish a stranglehold on the southern US due in part to snake-loving global warming, according to a new government report. With climate change and more pet owners releasing unwanted snakes into the wild, the adaptable serpent could soon call home any area from Northern California through the Southwest, deep South and Atlantic Coast, reports USA Today.

The area the pythons could colonize grows even more when USGS climate modeling estimates the global warming between now and 2100. "They are moving northward, there's no question," said one researcher. Burmese pythons first came to America as pets, but dumped snakes began breeding in Florida, and have moved into other states. The pythons eat anything from rats and rabbits to bobcats and alligators.

Pilar Franks, a volunteer at the Horseshoe Creek Wildlife Foundation in Davenport, Florida, looks at Snoopy, a 17-foot Burmese Python. The snake had been turned loose by an owner that no longer wanted it, a habit that could lead to the species' spread across the US, scientists say.
Pilar Franks, a volunteer at the Horseshoe Creek Wildlife Foundation in Davenport, Florida, looks at "Snoopy," a 17-foot Burmese Python. The snake had been turned loose by an owner that no longer wanted...   (KRT Photos)
Biologist Skip Snow with the skin of a python he found in the Everglades. Park officials are finding Burmese pythons at Everglades National Park, released there by pet owners who no longer want them.  Scientists say the snakes could soon spread across 1/3 of the US.
Biologist Skip Snow with the skin of a python he found in the Everglades. Park officials are finding Burmese pythons at Everglades National Park, released there by pet owners who no longer want them....   (KRT Photos)
A Burmese Python that was found in Everglades National Park now is being used by Lori Oberhofer to train Python Pete, a Beagle puppy, to smell out exotic python snakes in the park. Pete will have his work cut out for him if the snakes continue to spread as fast...
A Burmese Python that was found in Everglades National Park now is being used by Lori Oberhofer to train "Python Pete," a Beagle puppy, to smell out exotic python snakes in the park. Pete will have his...   (KRT Photos)
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