Hybrid ‘super-snake’ identified in South Florida
Some snakes have been found to have genetic material from two different reptiles, the Burmese and Indian pythons
A new breed of snake with enhanced adaptability to environments has been identified by scientists in Florida in the United States.
An ecological study, published in the Ecology and Evolution journal, suggested that crossbreeding between Burmese and Indian pythons has given rise to a new breed of “super snakes” that can adapt to different environments, the International Business Times reported.
Margaret Hunter, the lead author of the study, was quoted in the Miami Herald as saying that the purpose of the study was to learn more about “invasion dynamics.” According to a report by USGS, of 400 Burmese pythons captured, 13 were found to have genetic materials identical to that of an Indian python.
Hunter added that in crossbreeding cases, some offspring carry the best traits of the two predeceasing species, which results in a phenomenon called “hybrid vigor” – including traits such as enhanced adaptability.
For example, Burmese pythons prefer wetlands like swamps, while Indian pythons prefer dry land. The super snakes can probably adapt to both wet and dry places and be as fast and aggressive as Indian pythons.
The study may be able to explain why pythons spread to North and West Florida in recent years. These hybrids may further impact the Floridian ecosystem as more cross-breedings will be seen among different snake types.