Technology & Science

Huge pythons wiping out mammals in Everglades

Large numbers of mammals living in Florida's Everglades are being wiped out by massive pythons, a phenomenon scientists fear could disrupt the food chain and upset the ecosystem, says a new study.

Snakes were previously pets released by owners

A Burmese python is wrapped around an American alligator in Everglades National Park, Fla. The National Academy of Science says the proliferation of pythons coincides with a sharp decrease of mammals in the park. (Lori Oberhofer/National Park Service/Associated Press)

Large numbers of mammals living in Florida's Everglades are being wiped out by massive pythons, a phenomenon scientists fear could disrupt the food chain and upset the ecosystem, says a new study.

The finding is based on the fact that roadside sightings of mammals such as raccoons, opossums, bobcats are down significantly in areas where pythons and other large constrictor snakes live, according to the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The snakes are not native to the Everglades and many are likely dumped there by people who bought them as pets but turned them loose after they grew too big to keep at home.

It's believed others escaped from pet shops during hurricane Andrew in1992 and have been reproducing ever since.