TechPythons and other invasive species wreak havoc in Puerto Rico

Pythons and other invasive species wreak havoc in Puerto Rico

Reticulated python, illustrative photo
Reticulated python, illustrative photo
Images source: © Wikipedia
Mateusz Tomczak

25 June 2024 17:11

Puerto Rico is struggling with a growing population of reticulated pythons and their attacks on people. Originating from Southeast Asia, these reptiles have spread in recent years to seven municipalities on the Caribbean island, frequently visited by tourists worldwide. What are the characteristics of these reptiles?

Local media increasingly report cases of aggressive snakes appearing near human dwellings, which are not typical species for Puerto Rico. Prof. Alberto Puente, a University of Puerto Rico biologist, notes that the island hosts various types of snakes. Still, the reticulated python is "the most dangerous reptile due to its large size and high aggressiveness."

Puerto Rico has a problem with reticulated pythons

The scientist emphasises that in most cases, reticulated python attacks on Puerto Rico residents result in injuries, but there are also cases of this animal killing a person.

According to him, the reticulated python, an invasive species in Puerto Rico that disrupts the functioning of the local ecosystem, has spread very quickly in recent years, especially in the area of seven municipalities. The first specimens of this animal were observed on the island in the first decade of the 21st century.

Large and aggressive snakes in Puerto Rico

Puente believes that the cause of the invasion of this snake is "the widespread trade in wild animals, which end up in Puerto Rico." The reticulated pythons living on the island can reach lengths of up to 6 metres.

In their native habitat in Southeast Asia, these snakes can grow up to 10 metres in length. Their diet includes monitor lizards and various species of birds and mammals—from rats to large domestic pigs.

The reticulated python is not the only non-native animal that has recently become widespread on this Caribbean island. Another species is the lemur, which is brought from Madagascar in Africa. As noted by the Puerto Rican newspaper "El Nuevo Día," in recent years, there have already been cases of lemur bites on humans in Puerto Rico.

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