Some snakes worldwide appear to be growing ever larger, and reptile experts believe people may be helping to drive the growth.
A nearly 18-foot-long Burmese python, for example, was recently discovered in the Florida Everglades. It is one of the largest ever pythons found there.
“The maximum size of Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades has been increasing by 6 inches to a foot a year for the past five to six years,” J.D. Willson, assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of Arkansas, told Discovery News, adding that he expects a 20-footer to be found there before long.
As their name suggests, Burmese pythons are not native to Florida. Instead, they are native to Southern and Southeast Asia. Willson explained that they were all the rage in pet stores back in the day.
“From the 70’s to the 90’s, you could buy baby Burmese pythons in pet stores,” he said.
Some escaped, or were released into the wild. The Florida Everglades has turned out to be a good habitat for them — at least initially — and their population has been established there since at least the year 2000.