Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Super snake" Fear In Florida

Snakes are a common sight for anyone who lives in Florida. This little snake, about two feet in length, I have identified as a (non-poisonous) Eastern Garter Snake. (It's possible that I am wrong, of course!)

I saw him (her?) laying dead in my street one morning when I was driving to work. Curiosity got the best of me, and I couldn't resist popping out of my car and take a picture.

Since there are six poisonous snakes in Florida, I have to be careful where I put my feet and hands when I am outside, or if I am rummaging around in my garage. Poisonous rattlesnakes are known to slither into warm and cozy human homes (hiding in laundry baskets, behind/inside dryers...).

But homes are not the only place where Floridians have to watch where they put their hands. Since I moved to Florida in 2007, I have read about two cases of Pygmy rattlesnake-bit-incidents at Walmart. Both of them occurred in the garden section, so be careful when you reach for those lovely Geraniums!

This morning when I was reading the news on-line, I came across the Latimes.com story about the new "Super snake" that lives in the Everglades. Its real name is African rock python. This monster gets bigger than the Burmese python which is another inhabitant of the Everglades. These are gigantic, hungry snakes. During a state-coordinated hunt last week, they found a female African rock python which was 14 feet long! And they can lunch on animals as big as goats and crocodiles, and even small children!

But what is the real problem with these big snakes? The Fort Collins Science Center gives a better overview of the real issue. In plain words, they're not as much of a threat to our pets and children as they are to the vulnerable Florida ecosystem. Because of how well they adapt and reproduce, they can live anywhere, grow quickly in numbers, and drive endangered animals to extinction.

Here is a summary:
1. Giant constrictors grow very fast (20 feet, 200 lbs), produce many offspring, and a females can store sperm and have more than a 100 fertilized eggs.
2. They are so called generalists which means they can live just about anywhere, even survive freezing temperatures.
3. They live in trees as young snakes and feed on birds.
4. Don't mind living in the city.
5. The are hard to see, "sit-and-wait" hunters.
6. They are hosts for parasites and diseases.

Sources:
http://hernando.fnpschapters.org/wildlife/snakes.htm
http://www.fort.usgs.gov/FLConstrictors/
http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-na-super-snake15-2010jan15,0,6729623.story

2 comments:

  1. I know most garden variety of snakes are supposed to be beneficial, ie keeping down the rodent population, but no matter how hard I try they still give me the heebie-jeebies. However, I would never hurt them. The pythons and boas on the other hand serve no godly purpose. (Just my opinion)

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  2. I can make a list of least lovable animals: boas,love bugs, mosquitoes, bees..., I can mostly think of small nasty animals.

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