African Rock and Burmese Python Hybrids in the Everglades?

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While much attention has been brought to the invasion of the Everglades by the Burmese python, there’s another species of python that may be making the Everglades it’s new home as well – the African rock python.

And while the numbers of African rock pythons in the Everglades has yet to reach the numbers of their Burmese cousins in the area, both juveniles and females with eggs have been found, suggesting that the species is well on its way to establishing its own stable breeding population.  This could be bad news for the Everglades, as these snakes are even bigger and meaner than their Burmese cousins.  [source]

Compounding the issue, National Geographic has an interesting piece on the possibility of the two species interbreeding and creating hybrid offspring.  Due to a phenomenon known as hybrid vigor (or heterosis), there’s a small chance these offspring could be even more effective hunters than either parent species.  These hybrids are often called BurmRocks by snake breeders.

Of course there might not be any native species left for these new hybrid snakes to prey on by the time they are established, seeing as how the plain old Burmese python is already eating all the other animals in the Everglades.

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(Featured photo credit: alex_griffiths / Foter / CC BY-SA)

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