That’s cold-blooded

Oh sure, you’ve heard all the dismal talk about global warming: The melting ice caps, the weakened penguins, the coastal flooding, the plagues and crop failures.

But what about the snakes? A recent study by the U.S. Geological Service seems to suggest that Burmese pythons, an exotic species hitherto confined to Florida, might one day be able to survive winters in much of the country. According to maps included in a Feb. 20 release by the agency, due to climate change, parts of Western North Carolina may be hospitable to these humongous constrictors by century’s end.

Beyond the abject terror involved in one day seeing a python on your porch, there are more far-reaching reasons to worry about the reptile’s territorial expansion. “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,” says Bob Reed, a USGS wildlife biologist who helped develop the maps. “Several endangered species,” Reed adds, “have already been found in the snakes’ stomachs. Pythons could have even more significant environmental and economic consequences if they were to spread from Florida to other states.” In addition to their reproducing populations in the South, pet pythons are occasionally dumped into the wilds by negligent owners.

The story also appears in the print version of today’s Asheville Citizen-Times

— Kent Priestley, staff writer

SHARE

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.