Blood-sucking worms found rattlesnakes for the first time in Florida

Blood-sucking WORMS that make their home in the lungs of those who infect them are first found in rattlesnakes in Florida, as scientists warn that & # 39; nasty situation & # 39; could spread

  • Scientists identified 3 dead pygmy rattlesnakes infected with parasitic worms
  • The worms were identified as those known to infect Burmese pythons in Asia
  • Researchers warn that it could spread to the rest of the country in years
  • Infected rattlesnakes were found 100 miles away from where the pythons live

A stomach-churning parasite that is typical of infecting the Burmese python in Southeast Asia is now on its way to central Florida – and scientists warn it could spread across the country in a matter of years.

The worms, known as pentastome parasites, invade the lungs of their victims and feed exclusively on blood.

Although it is known that the presence of Burmese pythons causes great damage to native species, scientists say they have a & # 39; disturbing & # 39; have found new cause for concern after discovering a dead pygmy rattlesnake with parasitic worms splashing out of its mouth.

Experts say that the parasite already seems to be traveling north, and it is impossible to say how far or fast it will spread.

Scientists have a & # 39; disturbing & # 39; identified a new cause for concern after discovering a dead pygmy rattlesnake with parasitic worms splashing out of its mouth. The worms, known as pentastome parasites, invade the lungs of their victims and feed exclusively on blood

Scientists have a & # 39; disturbing & # 39; identified a new cause for concern after discovering a dead pygmy rattlesnake with parasitic worms splashing out of its mouth. The worms, known as pentastome parasites, invade the lungs of their victims and feed exclusively on blood

Burmese pythons have become invasive in Florida due to the exotic pet trade and natural disasters; the giant snakes were thousands of animals that were said to have escaped after hurricane Andrew decimated the breeding facilities in 1992.

And now it seems that they are bringing their parasites.

According to Terence Farrell, Ph. D., professor of biology at the University of Stetson, who has studied the species for decades, is the discovery & # 39; pretty alarming & # 39 ;.

& # 39; We have researched and discovered that these types of parasites have never been found in pygmy rattlesnakes, & # 39; said Farrell.

From now on the parasites are not considered to be a major threat to humans. But it would be a disaster for native reptiles.

Pygmy rattlesnakes are poisonous and can be found in the southeastern United States. And they are essentially defenseless against the worms.

& # 39; Our research shows that the parasites move rapidly north along the peninsula and appear to have major health effects on pygmy rattlesnakes, & # 39; said Farrell.

& # 39; The parasites found in the pygmy rattlesnakes were larger than those in the Burmese pythons, & # 39; the researcher added.

& # 39; It is a nasty situation because the pygmy rattlesnakes have not developed or have developed a defense against the parasite. & # 39;

In a study published this month in the journal Herpetological Review, researchers identified the parasites as the cause of death for three pygmy rattlesnakes at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge in DeLeon Springs, Florida.

Dissections of the dead snakes revealed parasites in the lung and trachea regions, which are known to reside after infection. The parasite comes from eating infected prey.

According to Terence Farrell, Ph. D., professor of biology at the University of Stetson, who has studied the species for decades, is the discovery & # 39; quite alarming & # 39;

According to Terence Farrell, Ph. D., professor of biology at the University of Stetson, who has studied the species for decades, is the discovery & # 39; quite alarming & # 39;

Dissections of the dead snakes revealed parasites in the lung and trachea regions, which are known to reside after infection.

Dissections of the dead snakes revealed parasites in the lung and trachea regions, which are known to reside after infection.

According to Terence Farrell (photo left), Ph.D., professor of biology at the University of Stetson, who has studied the species for decades, the discovery is & # 39; quite alarming & # 39 ;.

According to the researchers, the DNA tests showed that the species seen in the pygmy rattlesnakes corresponded to the parasites from Southeast Asia that infect Burmese pythons.

But the pygmy rattlesnakes were infected in Central Florida – more than 100 kilometers from where the invasive pythons now thrive.

& # 39; The research tells us that there is a whole new concern about invasive species and the diseases and parasites that they entail, & # 39; said Farrell.

& # 39; This parasite is not only a problem with Florida. We have no idea how much of the US this parasite will spread and attract, making it a national problem in a few years. & # 39;

WHAT IS AN INVASIVE TYPE?

An invasive species is a type of animal, plant, microbe, etc. That has been introduced in a region where it is not original.

Typically, human activity is to blame for their transportation, be it accidentally or intentionally.

Hammerkop flatworms have become invasive in many parts of the world. They enjoy indigenous earthworms, as you can see

Hammerkop flatworms have become invasive in many parts of the world. They enjoy indigenous earthworms, as you can see

Hammerkop flatworms have become invasive in many parts of the world. They enjoy indigenous earthworms, as you can see

Sometimes species travel around the world with freight shipments and other ways of traveling.

And others escape or are released into the wild after being held as pets. A good example of this is the Burmese python in the Florida Everglades.

Plants such as Japanese knotweed have seen a similar fate; first propagated for beauty in Europe and the US, their rapid spread has quickly turned them into a threat to native plant species.

Climate change also helps drive non-local species to new areas because plants begin to flower in regions that they may not have had before, and insects such as the mountain pine beetle benefit from drought-weakened plants, according to NWF.

Advertisement

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js