Is Global Warming Leading to Python Invasion in N. America?

by Hannah Punitha on  February 23, 2008 at 5:15 PM Environmental Health   - G J E 4
Is Global Warming Leading to Python Invasion in N. America?
Climate researchers suggest that pythons could soon invade new parts of North America, due to global warming.

According to a report in Discovery News, researchers have based their theory on climate modeling for the year 2100, which predicts the likely places in North America where pythons might spread.

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 Everglades National Park, in Miami's water management areas to the northeast, Key Largo to the southeast, and other state parks and public and private lands throughout the region.

Now, the climate modeling for the year 2100 has shown 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 Tennessee, Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware and southern New Jersey.

The research has also predicted that due to global warming, western US states like California, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico could see python-friendly climates, while Washington and Oregon would see python weather for the first time in some places.

"The climate maps do not take into account other factors which might keep pythons out, like appropriate food and habitat," said invasive snake expert Gordon Rodda of the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Fort Collins Science Center in Colorado.

"Still, the snakes will likely take advantage of the changing climate and spread north wherever they can," he added.

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 North America is the bull snake or indigo snake, neither of which exceeds nine feet," he added.

"Large pythons are also capable of killing adult humans, although they currently pose the most danger to endangered Key Largo woodrats and rare round-tailed muskrats," said Rodda.

Source: ANI

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