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August 15th, 2012
01:31 PM ET

Wildlife expert Ron Magill on the danger of rapid population growth of Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades

In the Florida Everglades, Burmese pythons have established a rapid breeding population as a result of being brought into the state via the exotic pet industry. Recently, a record-sized 17.5 foot long, 164.5-pound pregnant Burmese python was discovered and examined in Miami by University of Florida researchers to address the spread of snakes in the area. This particular snake is the largest Burmese python ever caught in the national park.

Wildlife expert and Zoo Miami communications director Ron Magill tells Soledad on "Starting Point" that that this snake is just the tip of the problem facing the everglades. Magill says, “South Florida is basically the Ellis Island for exotic animals here in this country and once they get out here in the south Florida environment most of these tropical animals feel like they’re in Club Med.”

Magill says Florida’s national park and its native species could be destroyed by an onslaught of non-native species like the python which has no known natural predator and population estimates ranging from the thousands to hundreds of thousands. “The python thing started many years ago but really came to a crescendo when hurricane Andrew…the urban legend is that a warehouse full of hundreds of these snakes was annihilated and these snakes just basically escaped into the wild and now they’re all getting to breeding age … and it’s a big problem.”

Filed under: Florida • Snakes