Is a more harmful python emerging in the Everglades?

Researchers in the Everglades found snakes with Indian python genetic markers, raising concerns that crossbreeding with Burmese pythons could create snakes that can inhabit both watery and dry landscapes. ©Nathan Rupert

Biologists studying invasive pythons in the Florida Everglades came across a disturbing finding. While most of the snakes they studied showed genetics of Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus), as expected, 13 also had genetic markers from Indian pythons (Python molurus). That raises the risk of creating a “super snake,” the Miami Herald reports, if these crossbred snakes can inhabit both watery landscapes, which Burmese pythons prefer, and dry lands, which Indian pythons inhabit. “If the Indian pythons have a wider range, perhaps these Everglades snakes now have that capability,” lead author and USGS geneticist Margaret Hunter told the Herald. “It’s quite interesting and quite surprising, but we don’t know the extent it’s in the population.”

Read the story in the Miami Herald or the study in Ecology and Evolution.