Brady Barr, host of the television show Dangerous Encounters
, makes handling an 18-foot (5.5-meter) tiger reticulated python look easy as kids watch during the National Geographic Explorers Camp in Scottsdale, Arizona, on June 13, 2009.
But don't be fooled: The reticulated python, which has been recorded reaching up to 32 feet (10 meters) long, is known to attack and kill people in its native Southeast Asian habitat, making it the most deadly snake to humans, a new USGS report says.
There's also a medium risk that that the world's longest snake may establish itself in the U.S., the report says. The reptile
, with its "beautiful network"--or reticulations--of earth-toned skin, is one of the most often imported pet snakes to the U.S., the report says. And South Florida's tropical habitat would be an ideal refuge for freed pythons.
"Humans here, we're not used to large snakes," said the Florida Museum of Natural History's Krysko. The usual advice for avoiding alligator attacks--for instance, staying away from tall grass along riverbanks--is futile against the alien snakes, he added.
"They can travel real far, real quick
the possibility of them taking a human is absolutely there."
Photograph by Adrienne Heiltzer, Fairmont Scottsdale Resort via AP