New, Extra-Vicious Python Species Is on the Loose in Florida

By Eliza Strickland | September 21, 2009 10:24 am

african-rock-pythonWhat’s worse than having one gigantic-but-relatively-docile python species invading Florida? Finding out that an extremely aggressive python species is moving in as well, and learning that the two species could theoretically interbreed to create a hybrid monster.

Florida wildlife officials have been concerned for some time about the 20-foot-long Burmese pythons that are thought to have been released by irresponsible pet owners and have established a thriving colony in Everglades National Park. But over the past year, four African rock pythons have also been sighted or captured in Miami-Dade county, giving biologists new cause for concern. Says herpetologist Kenneth Krysko: “They are just mean, vicious snakes…. You couldn’t get a worse python to become established. A Burmese python is just a docile snake. These things will lunge at you” [Miami Herald].

The two species have been known to interbreed in captivity, and that fact has scientists worried about a phenomenon known as “hybrid vigor,” in which the hybrid offspring of two different species is stronger or in some other way genetically superior to its parents. Experts say that the looming possibility of “hybrid vigor” between nonnative species means the Everglades are turning into a herpetologist’s version of Dr. Frankenstein’s lab. “It’s a big petri dish,” says Kevin Enge, an invasive species expert…. “You keep introducing things and, yeah, you don’t know what’s going to turn out” [ABC News].

Related Content:
80beats: How to Control Florida’s Invasive, Occasionally Killer Pythons?
80beats: Super-Sized Snake Ate Crocodiles for Breakfast
Discoblog: When Animals Invade, Part II: Giant Pythons Taking Over South Florida

Image: flickr / mango atchar. A 15-foot African rock python trying to eat a goat.

  • Josh

    Quick, somebody call Jennifer Lopez!

  • nick

    Change is inevitable. You can’t stop it. You can’t really slow it down. You can accelerate it though.

  • AJ

    Wow. i live in Mass, and we recently almost passed a law that would make most pets besides dogs and cats illegal. it had practically no support, and didnt pass.

    i supported the bill right away bcuz ppl are definitely way too irresponsible with exotic pets. ive been to many exotic pet shops where the animals are kept in horrible conditions. itd be better for them if they were left in their natural habitat. but…us humans are a curious species…we just have to own everything we see.

  • Snake Oil Baron

    They really ought to test the two species to see if they can produce fertile offspring. Meanwhile, start introducing big crocodiles to eat the pythons that are too big for the Florida gators to eat. Then resurrect dinosaurs via their DNA to eat the crocodiles. By then we should be able to genetically engineer dragons to eat the dinosaurs. Problem solved.

  • Bob Snyder

    I second Snake’s idea.

  • Shaking head

    Yeah hey everybody let’s just keep screwing with things till we fix it…. Idiots.. The more you mess around with nature the less natural things become..

  • Hi Gene!

    I just got back from the Keys, Iguanas are overtaking the ecosystem, and the loudest voices concerned are the home gardeners losing flowers. If large snakes et iguanas, and keep people from leaving the trails, then be thankful it isn’t an Anaconda.

    The last thing we need is another B movie.

  • online flowers

    I prefer to receive flowers, in particular during winter. They will generally lighten up the house and provide a good odor on the fresh air.

  • Tom

    Entropy, ladies and gentlemen. Entropy. By the way of. STUPIDITY. :)


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