You know those stories you hear regularly from South Florida about giant escaped pythons wolfing down pet poodles? Well, a changing climate in the U.S. means you might have to keep Fifi safe from roaming invasive snakes even if you live as far north as Norman, Oklahoma.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) this week released new climate maps showing that Burmese pythons, an invasive species of snake now comfortably at home in the Everglades, could extend their range to as much as a third of the continental U.S. by 2100 as the climate warms.
While there’s no guarantee the pythons will find the types of food and shelter they like farther north, the temperatures across not only all of Florida — but much of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and North and South Carolina as well, along with parts of California, Arizona and New Mexico — will likely be toasty enough for the snakes by the end of this century, USGS researchers say.
“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,” said Bob Reed, a USGS wildlife biologist who helped develop the maps. “Several endangered species 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.”