The Burmese python is native to Southeast Asia, but in the last century they've somehow taken a foothold in Florida and are thriving. How did they get here? No one is certain, but it's speculated that, like most other invasive species, they were brought in as pets and then either escaped or were released.
Originally the pythons were confined to the Everglades, but in recent years they're spreading. One was captured in Sarasota in 2009, and one in Bradenton that same year. How far they're capable of spreading is anyone's guess; it wasn't expected they would make it as far north as they have. Florida's Hurricane Andrew made the problem worse when it wiped out a python breeding facility and freed many specimens into the wild.
And with the discovery of tegu lizards in Ocala in 2010, officials are worrying that the ecological applecart has already been tumped over, and no turning back. Survival of the fittest and all that.
Time to start to develop a taste for python jerky. (Yes, it does exist!)