Posted on Mon, Sep. 21, 2009
last updated: September 21, 2009 07:59:31 AM
As if one giant python wasn't enough, a cluster of captures in a single square mile of West Miami-Dade has scientists worried about a new species spreading across South Florida.
And this constrictor makes the Burmese python that has already pushed deep into the Everglades seem almost cuddly. The snake is the African rock python, a relative similar in size, appearance and appetite but considered much more aggressive.
"They are just mean, vicious snakes," said Kenneth Krysko, senior herpetologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. "You couldn't get a worse python to become established. A Burmese python is just a docile snake. These things will lunge at you."
Only six African pythons have been recovered in South Florida since 2002.
The most notable came four years ago when a 10-footer pretty much captured itself in a turkey coop near Coral Way and Southwest 147th Avenue, when it swallowed a bird too large to let the snake slip back out through the wire mesh. Pythons literally squeeze the life out of prey, biting, crushing and then swallowing meals whole.
In 2005, scientists just beginning to tackle the emerging Burmese python menace dismissed the turkey incident as isolated, likely the work of an escaped or illegally released pet.
But a recent string of finds nearby — all centered around the swampy southeast corner of Tamiami Trail and Krome Avenue — strongly suggests the rock python has settled in, said Robert Reed, a biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Colorado, who is working with Krysko, Everglades National Park and other researchers on efforts to control the constrictors.
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