Monday, October 24, 2011

Invasive Pythons, The Book

Humans have been moving exotic animals around for a very long time, giant snakes are not an acception. Onesicritus, a lieutenant in Alexander the Greats campaign in India (352–327 BC), relayed stories of the Indian king Abisarus keeping pet snakes that were 120 and 210 feet long. While others with Alexander the Great’s army (Nearchus and Arisobulus) reported seeing Indian snakes that were a more believable 24 and 13.5 feet long (see the Giant Constricting Snakes web site). Pythons have also been imported into the USA for at least the last century for carnivals, zoos, and of course the pet trade. As more people and institutions kept giant snakes escapes and releases were invetiable. Virtually any animal kept as a pet, capable of surviveing in its new geography is likely to become established as a feral population. Thus, it should not be a surprise that giant snakes have become established in Florida, and become the cane toads of the snake world. Google "snakes" virtually any day of any week and there will likely be an escaped python story reported from some place in the developed world.

Michael E. Dorcas and John D. Willson have produced a book that will be of interest to all of those interested in snakes, particularly giant snakes or invasive species, Invasive Pythons in the United States, Ecology of an Introduced Predator.The book is well written and documented, the photographs are excellent, and the overall approach to the problem of invasive pythons are sound.There is an excellent discussion of the climate matching studies that have received considerable criticism as well as the risk humans face from the giant snakes - it is really quite minimal.

A new climate study released this week confirms global warming/climate is real, despite issues raised by climate change skeptics. The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study foud reliable evidence of a rise in the average world land temperature of approximately 1°C since the mid-1950s. Will invasive pythons adapt and spread to other areas of the USA over the next century? This seems highly probable, but don't expect them to be in New York, Chicago, or Los Angles soon.

Michael E. Dorcas and John D. Willson 2011. Invasive Pythons in the United States, Ecology of an Introduced Predator. A Wormsloe Foundation Nature Book, The University of Georgia Press. 176 pp. 188 color photos, 8 maps, 1 table, 7 figures.

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