How Pet Snakes Set Off an Unlikely Chain of Events That Could Make You Sick

How Pet Snakes Set Off an Unlikely Chain of Events That Could Make You Sick

By LIVIA ALBECK-RIPKA OCT. 7, 2017

Opossums, raccoons and deer all but disappeared from Everglades National Park in Florida after the Burmese python invaded. When they vanished, mosquitos turned to feeding on rats that can carry encephalitis. That could put humans at risk.

Sometime in the 1980s, it became cool to own a pet reptile in Florida. Cooler still was owning one from far away, like from Madagascar, Egypt or Burma. The more exotic, the better. Thousands of cold-blooded creatures moved through Miami’s international airport to their new glass-box homes.

The Burmese python — which can be draped around a neck — was especially popular. A baby python is just 10 inches in length. Much to the s

urprise of some of their owners, those babies cold grow up to 20 times that size…