Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Snakes in the grass

Despite the title, this bit is not about politics. Really. I live in South Florida and we have a problem...well, we have a lot of problems, but the one I'm talking about here concerns snakes. Real, live, actual snakes.

When I was in school during the eighties, having a pet snake--usually a python--was all the rage. People even took them out at night, to areas with a lot of nightlife and clubs, and took them to malls. Then at some point, I guess they tired of caring for the snakes and had the bright idea of setting then free. In the Everglades.

The pythons survived and multiplied, and by 2000 it had been confirmed that the pythons--Burmese pythons, mostly--were well established throughout the Everglades. And they're serious predators, having become significant threats to Florida mammals, birds, and yes, even alligators. The Burmese python can reach lengths in excess of seventeen feet and weigh over one hundred and fifty pounds. The bigger ones are more than capable of killing even large mammals and alligators. One fifteen-footer was found with an 80 pound doe inside of it. Here's a picture of a python that ate an alligator, then exploded:

As the first article notes, there are serious fears that the python population is poised to expand across the Southeast. But for now, they're killing off all kinds of Florida wildlife. Raccoons, marsh rabbits, and opossums have been particularly hard it and their declining populations have caused the pythons to move on to bigger prey.

A number of python hunting programs have been instituted by the State, but the population appears to still be growing. If you're a hunter and see a python in the wild, report the incident. In fact, if you're a non-hunter and see one, report the incident.

If the population continues to grow, the pythons will expand into populated areas and they will go after dogs and cats. And they will win.

And if you have a pet python--or any exotic pet--and want to get rid of it, don't "set it free." Please.

Cheers, all.

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