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Burmese pythons invading California?

map_climatematch.jpgThis is a great article from the San Francisco Chronicle – according to USGS predictions, exotic Burmese pythons (which have established in the Florida Everglades and can move as much as 20 miles a month) could make it to California as soon as 2020.  Californians – run for the hills!

The top map shows current suitable habitat for Burmese pythons in the US, while the lower one is a projection for 2100.

While I hoping that the article is intentionally funny, it does touch on some interesting things.  A large population of Burmese pythons has become established in the Florida Everglades.


People tend to think of south Florida’s problems with exotic tropical wildlife as unique, but as the USGS maps show, there’s an awful lot of suitable habitat for pythons all across the US.  No one is expecting a rapid spread, but it isn’t a lack of suitable habitat that’s stopping them from spreading.  More to the point though is the fact that anywhere within the green area, there’s a potential for escaped or abandoned pets to become established.  It’s a problem that will only become worse as the climate warms.

H/T Pharyngula.

Other coverage at ScienceDaily, and press releases from the USGS Newsroom and Fort Collins Science Center.

Update: R. Alexander Pyron and colleagues at the City University of New York disagree with the predictions of the USGS models.  Using niche modelling, they predict a far smaller distribution for Burmese pythons – southern Florida and the southern tip of Texas at present, and southern Florida and parts of the Pacific Northwest in the future.


11 Responses

  1. People have been buying exotic pets in states such as Florida and California since at least the 1960’s, so it is quite possible that these pet snakes as well as many other pets have been released into the wild for at least 50 years, if not longer. I remember my grand parents had bought monkeys and Alligators in California in the mid 1960’s.

  2. It would be hard to guess how many Pythons and Anaconda’s have been released in and around the Sacramento to Stockton to Antioch water ways since the 1960’s. Whether or not they have begun to breed is yet to be seen.

  3. I would like everyone to keep in mind that their is no proof that the Burmese Python has survived or even been found in the wild anywhere but the southern tip of flordia. These snake are not apex predators ethier as the have many predators in the flordia Everglads.Keep in mind it is very difficult for these snakes to digest their food at any tempeture under 60 degrese which means the food rots inside of them and they die.Their population in the everglades has also died down in the past year due to a cold spell last spring. As for unresponsible pet owners, I am sure it is apart of it, but most burmese pythons caught in the Everglades have been proved gotten lose due to sevral huricans that have knoked out comercial breeding facilites as babys. Most adult burms in captivty are as tame as puppys but should only be kept by experieced keepers or zoos. Also keep in mind this diagram is based on tempature not climate, because burms are tropical snakes and can not live in a desert climate which rules out half the graph.

    Nick Biege

  4. The data on the sustainability graph has since been proven bias as well as false and exagerated, which renders it unreliable.

    • Not sure what you mean about a “sustainability graph”. Do you have a link to what you’re talking about?

  5. I apologize, I meant the graph above, the suitability graph. The head scientist who made it has lost all credibility because of it being untrue biassed information to support certain people’s political agendas.

  6. It dosen’t matter anyway because Burmese Pythons and three other costricters where added to the lacey Act with the use of false data. There are no data quality checks for “rule changes” that effect the economy less than 100,000 a year so they did not have to prove the data correct allthough they did admit the data from the above graph is 100% false.

  7. There is a dead Burmese on highway 4 between discovery bay and Stockton. Near the delta wildlife preserve

  8. That is in Northern California

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