Burmese pythons making themselves at home

February 21, 2008

U.S. biologists said Burmese pythons could start moving north from Florida into other states if the climate continues to change.

New climate maps developed by the U.S. Geological Survey show the invasive species is spreading from Everglades National Park in south Florida and could find comfortable climatic conditions in roughly a third of the United States.

One map shows areas areas in the United States with climates similar to places in which Burmese pythons live naturally. A second map projects these "climate matches" at the end of this century based on global warming models, which significantly expands the potential habitat for these snakes, the USGS said Wednesday in a release.

"Wildlife managers are concerned that these snakes, which can grow to over 20 feet long and more than 250 pounds, pose a danger to state- and federally listed threatened and endangered species as well as to humans," Bob Reed, a USGS wildlife biologist at the Fort Collins Science Center in Colorado, said in a statement.

Reed said pythons could have significant environmental and economic consequences if they were to spread from Florida to other states.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

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