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Apr 12 - Bloodsucking worms in pythons are killing Florida snakes, study says


 
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 2 weeks ago '05        #1
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phantomnation 3176 heat pts3176
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Apr 12 - Bloodsucking worms in pythons are k*lling Florida snakes, study says
 

 
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MELBOURNE, Fla. - First, they slithered a deadly path through the Everglades, swallowing whole some of the most endangered wading birds and small mammals in Florida.

Now, Burmese pythons are k*lling — although indirectly — one of their own ilk, the pygmy rattler.

A new study, led by researchers at Stetson University, shows that parasitic worms spread by invasive Burmese pythons are k*lling native Florida pygmy snakes.

The researchers found the invasive worms in Central Florida, more than 100 miles away from where the Burmese pythons reside in the southern portion of the state. But that doesn't mean the pythons are there. The parasite is getting that far north by other means, hitching rides in reptiles and other host critters that Florida snakes eat, with risk of spreading far beyond the Sunshine State.

"At this point, they are moving very rapidly. They are certainly in Brevard County," said Terence Farrell, a biologist at Stetson University and lead author on the study. "It's conceivable they will spread throughout the whole United States."

More: This 17-foot-long python is dead. Here's how scientists will track and k*ll more giant snakes

More: A Texas homeowner saw a 'few' rattlesnakes and called for help. The removal company found 45 of them

These bloodsucking snake parasites are not thought to be a health risk to humans.

"There are relatives of this parasite that people have gotten by eating raw snakes," Farrell said, adding that the odds of anyone getting this specific invasive parasite are extremely low. "There isn't a human health concern at this time."

The study, published in the journal Herpetological Review, suggests that the so-called pentastome parasites or worms, likely k*lled three pygmy rattlesnakes at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge in Florida.

In August, Farrell, along with Craig Lind, a*sistant professor of biology at Stockton University, found one pygmy rattlesnake they'd been studying dead. The parasitic worms were crawling out of its mouth.

"It's truly disgusting," Farrell said of seeing the parasite's effects on its victims.

When the researchers dissected the three pygmy rattlesnakes, they found the parasites in the lung and trachea of the snakes. One of the worms was as wide as the snake's trachea, and may have obstructed the snake's airway, the researchers said.

These bloodsucking parasites typically lodge in the lungs of reptiles that become infected after eating contaminated frogs and other prey.

Pygmy rattlesnakes, which grow only a few feet long, are venomous snakes native to the southeastern United States.

Other research has found major declines in pygmy rattlesnake populations in the Everglades over the past 15 years.


But the researchers suspect many more snakes may be dying from the parasites.

"It looks like more than a dozen (species of) native snakes are being infected by this parasite," Farrell said.

The study included researchers from Stetson, University of Florida, Fairleigh d*ckinson University and Stockton University in New Jersey.

“The research tells us that there’s a whole new concern about invasive species and the diseases and parasites that they bring with them,” Farrell said. “This parasite isn’t just a Florida problem. We have no idea how much of the U.S. this parasite will spread and move into, which may cause it to become a nationwide problem in a few years.”

Beyond reptiles, fish, mammals, frogs and other amphibians also are known to host the worms. So the rattlesnakes could be getting the parasites from eating some of those hosts, the researchers said.

Farrell suspects anoles and other lizards that hitch rides on vehicles could be spreading the parasites from South Florida, via the interstate highways, camping equipment and hauling loads of firewood.

Farrell, who's studied pygmy rattlesnakes for decades, called the presence of the parasites "pretty alarming" and a first in pygmy rattlesnakes.

The Burmese python, one of the largest snakes on the planet, and a native of southeast Asia, has been spreading north from South Florida for more than 15 years. The colossal reptile has slithered a path of destruction and now reigns as a supreme predator in the Florida Everglades.

“The parasites that were found in the pygmy rattlesnakes were larger than the ones found in Burmese pythons,” Farrell said. “It’s a nasty situation because the pygmy rattlesnakes haven’t evolved or developed defenses against the parasite.”

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19 comments for "Apr 12 - Bloodsucking worms in pythons are killing Florida snakes, study says"

 1 week ago '10        #2
Trilluminati GA 435 heat pts435
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The mfn irony
+3   

 1 week ago '18        #3
Ryo857 
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That’s not good more vermin to frolic around
+8   

 1 week ago '06        #4
new2hiphop 3 heat pts
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how u snake a snake ?!?
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 1 week ago '16        #5
Pyschic 139 heat pts139
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Snake goin snake

 1 week ago '12        #6
acefresh 23 heat pts23
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If you’re eating raw snakes, parasitic infections are likely the least of your problems.

But good riddance
@
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Top 10 most slapped recently  1 week ago '16        #7
Plair 194 heat pts194
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fu*k them snakes
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 1 week ago '19        #8
Big Black Cobra 14 heat pts14
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Propaganda...all animals carry parasitic organisms. Fl is just looking for more money.
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 1 week ago '04        #9
Mike T 173 heat pts173
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It use to be a joke but Florida always gets the wild news stories
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 1 week ago '07        #10
iswerve 191 heat pts191
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black cobra with another L
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 1 week ago '11        #11
socal511 26 heat pts26
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even tho hes using tweezers in the video , barehanded is kinda foul...
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 1 week ago '12        #12
McGirt876 7 heat pts
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Fuk em!! Don't like snakes anyway










Shouts to dem gangsta a*s worms too!
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 1 week ago '05        #13
P DRILLA 116 heat pts116
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[pic - click to view]

+16   

Top 10 most propped recently  1 week ago '19        #14
Angry Yam 29 heat pts29
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All reptiles rodents and amphibious creatures need to be wiped out
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 1 week ago '19        #15
88 81 1 heat pts
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from Florida

 1 week ago '06        #16
detroitdipset 
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Man fu*k this propaganda a*s article. This is how dumb a*s legislators in FLA get elected and us hobbyist lose our rights
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 1 week ago '11        #17
tonio25 6 heat pts
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 Ryo857 said
That’s not good more vermin to frolic around
Idk where you been but FL has a huge invasive species problem with snakes
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 1 week ago '16        #18
YKing 17 heat pts17
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at some point we have to stop and seriously ask and investigate wtf is happening in Florida, the animals and humans are tripping

 1 week ago '08        #19
606robin 29 heat pts29
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Safe to say, we should’ve been nuked Florida...
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 1 week ago '14        #20
SHOWnPROVE 8 heat pts
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In S. Florida we have so many diff cultures plus the snowbirds are still down. I love my city!

But yeah fu*k those pythons! Crocs did the same to the alligator in the Everglades

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