Python Species Cross-Breeding In The Florida Everglades Have Created A Hybrid 'Super Snake'

Tuesday, 28 August 2018 - 1:30PM
Earth
Tuesday, 28 August 2018 - 1:30PM
Python Species Cross-Breeding In The Florida Everglades Have Created A Hybrid 'Super Snake'
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It sounds like one of those old Sci-Fi Channel original movies (the New York Times even called it "The Snake That's Eating Florida"), but Burmese pythons have been lurking in Florida's Everglades for over twenty years, breeding and wiping out the local animal populations. Now researchers have found evidence that, somewhere along the way, Burmese pythons bred with Indian pythons – creating a new breed of "super snake" that adapts to different environments.

This, of course, is in addition to growing roughly 20 feet long and weighing 100 pounds, which is just par for the course with pythons.

The Burmese python problem was hard enough to deal with when it was just regular snakes. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, "This non-native species to Florida has spread throughout the Everglades. Except for alligators and crocodiles, adult Burmese pythons have no predators in Florida. Pythons have consumed a wide variety of native and non-native wildlife, and they have the capacity to adversely impact vulnerable species..." To deal with them, Florida began issuing permits to hunt pythons (you read that correctly), although only experienced snake hunters were allowed to participate. 

But, according to a new study published in Ecology and Evolution, we may not be dealing with run-of-the-mill pythons in the future: "Our finding that the Florida python population is comprised of distinct lineages suggests greater standing variation for adaptation and the potential for broader areas of suitable habitat in the invaded range." In layman's terms, this means that the crossbreeding between Burmese pythons (which are water-friendly swamp-dwellers) and Indian pythons (which like to live in trees) could mean that future generations of pythons may be able to expand beyond their current habitats – and even head north if local temperatures keep getting warmer due to climate change.

So the stage is set: giant snakes have been breeding and growing in the impassable swamps of the Everglades, and soon their adaptable offspring may begin encroaching on the human world as the world as the global climate shifts to suit their bid at conquest. Super Snake vs. The Meg – coming soon to a theater (a little too) near you.
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