Burmese pythons slithering north?

AIKEN, S.C. (AP) - Scientists at the Savannah River Ecology Lab in South Carolina want to know, can Burmese pythons that have been spreading north in Florida survive in places like the Carolinas, or Tennessee?

So they've dumped 7 of them into a pit surrounded by 400 feet of reinforced fence at the lab at the old nuclear weapons complex. The snakes have radio transmitters and data records to monitor their condition.

Scientists think the snakes spread from pet shop terrariums shattered by Hurricane Andrew in Florida in 1992.

They want to know just how far they might spread.

University of Georgia ecology professor Whit Gibbons says pythons compete with major predators, including alligators. He says they have been known to eat people in their native Southeast Asia.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.