The chill crawled up my spine just writing the title.
Do you believe snakes receive a bad rap or that they deserve their evil reputation? It’s a topic for debate, but no one can deny that non-native Burmese pythons are the scariest creatures in the Everglades National Park in Florida—and not because they are snakes!
In the park’s southernmost area, tens of thousands of these invading species have decimated the rabbit and fox populations. Along with raccoon, opossum, and bobcat, the endangered woodrat and limpkin are a smorgasbord for the python. Adult deer and six-foot alligators can’t escape these indiscriminate predators either, but meals of this size sometimes have devastating, or should I say explosive, consequences for the most gluttonous python. Now, that’s scary! Check out the YouTube videos on Florida’s Exploding Burmese Python!
An entire ecosystem is teetering on the brink, so what can we do?
- Stop dumping pets that we can no longer maintain, and secure their habitats to prevent escape.
- Solve the problem Davy’s way: address the existing problem using science. Because much of the Everglades is inaccessible, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Wetland and Aquatic Research Center developed a technological approach to python control. The scientists surgically implanted VHG transmitters, organized weekly telemetry flights to locate new pythons, and implanted suitable females with accelerometers and GPD tags. All this allows them to use the python’s own biology against it, effectively controlling the population naturally.
- In the meantime, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission encourages the public to help control all invading snake species. The FWC now allows year-round killing on some commission-managed lands, and private property owners are allowed to kill pythons without a license or permit. There are several restrictions, but they outline methods on their website to deal humanely with any python.
- Some “lucky” hunters, anglers, and military veterans can join PATRIC (Python Action Team Removing Invasive Constrictors). They receive hourly wages, two hundred dollars for active non-native constrictor nests, fifty dollars for snakes up to four feet with twenty-five dollars for every additional foot of snake.
I’ll pass. Thanks.
Jazz’s snake encounter was of a different variety, but a decade ago, someone killed a Burmese python in south Georgia, so who knows where the northernmost habitat ends. If the idea of stumbling across a 25-foot, 200-pound snake that can live up to 25 years, gives you pause—it should. But don’t pause too long. You’re smaller than an alligator.