So because I am the person who has to pay attention to these things (because I nominated myself), Florida is dealing with an invasive species problem by allowing hunters to cull the herd. In this case, the “herd” is Burmese pythons. I am suspicious of things that don’t have feet.
Actually for serious, snakes freak me out. I once held a baby snake and I spent the entire time thinking about how vulnerable my wrist was to fangs, mammal-biting fangs that long for blood. It’s the head of the snake that scares me. Not the body.
Snakes can be quite lovely, actually
When I’d first heard of the snake-culling on NPR, I thought “huh, that’s interesting” and then filed it away in my brain to dump later. I did not care, is the point. NPR gave much the same analysis as the linked article above — that is to say, none. NPR reported that the population of Burmese Pythons, a non-native species invasive to Florida, had risen to the levels that the government was allowing hunters to kill the pythons at will. That is pretty much what the Miami Herald says, except that it gives a bit more information on the rules of the hunter’s cull.
Repticon (the convention for reptiles!) posted the Miami Herald link above, asking for thoughts. This was literally the first time I had to given the Burmese Pythons any active thought. I gave my response:
And then did some serious research on Burmese Pythons, and by “serious research” I mean Wikipedia. Because that’s how things are done on the internet. According to Wikipedia, Burmese Pythons are not poisonous. “The snake uses its sharp rearward-pointing teeth to seize its prey, then wraps its body around the prey, at the same time contracting its muscles, killing the prey by constriction.” Oh, oh goody. “In captivity their diet consists primarily of commercially available, appropriately sized rats, and graduates to larger items such as rabbits and poultry as they grow. Exceptionally large pythons may even require larger food items such as pigs or goats, and are known to have attacked and eaten alligators and adult deer in Florida…” Wait, aren’t humans smaller than alligators and adult deer? “A three-metre long Burmese python can easily kill a child and a five-metre long (around 16.5 feet) Burmese python is certainly capable of overpowering and killing a fully grown adult.”
The Wikipedia article also can’t decide if Burmese Pythons are going to leave Southeastern Florida or not. First they point out that the USGS showed that, thanks to climate change, they could migrate northwards. But then Wikipedia points out that article wasn’t peer-reviewed! In fact, Burmese Pythons died of exposure when brought to Southern California! Then the USGS brought out another study saying that the Burmese Pythons could migrate north! Then herpetologists again contradicted the study! Who to trust?
I recognize that I’m focusing on only the horrible parts of the Wikipedia page, but most of it is the standard neutral data on where the Burmese Python comes from and what it does. Did you know that snakes are born with egg teeth, which allow it to break through the egg, I guess? Also, sometimes Burmese Pythons brumate! What a strange thing for a reptile to do. On the pro-side of things, Burmese Pythons are “made popular by their attractive colour and apparently easy-going nature” and that…that is about it on the pro-burmie side of things on Wikipedia. Reptiles are easy-going, guys, I’m not going to lie. Give them a hot spot and a cool spot and some food and plenty of alone time and man, reptiles are easy pets.
Now that we’re all a little more educated on the subject of Burmese Pythons, let’s see what my fellow Repticon page-followers have to say about the culling of the pythons.
Honestly, most of the responses were along the same lines as mine. “It has to be done,” most of us said. “It’s sad that animals have to die because of human stupidity, but it must be done, for the sake of the environment and the other animals.” Keep in mind that having an non-native predator with those sorts of numbers means that native predators can’t eat and the prey animals are dying faster than they ought to. There were also those who were fully against the hunt:
There were conspiracy theorists in the group:
Could it have something to do with land development? I honestly have no idea. I do know that land down there is a goldmine. When my cousin and his fiancee visited for my grampa’s birthday, they told us about how Miami was trying to kick out Burn Notice in order to build condos. Sure, Burn Notice provides hundreds of jobs and makes people interested in visiting Miami, but condos! Perhaps more research is required on this, I don’t know.
There was also lots of advice for the hunters.
One person didn’t seem to understand the question.
That’s a fantastic song by Oasis by the way
Another person didn’t seem to understand the issue. Like, at all.
I might be new to this whole Burmese Python issue, but:
1) Burmese Pythons are non-native, meaning that they don’t belong in the Everglades and they are invading our space
2) “this” is singular and “animals” is plural, so you should have said “these animals”
3) Burmese Pythons would still need to get caught in order to get “ex-ported”
4) And anyway they’re non-native, so it would be “deported” back to their native country
5) Rainforests? Do you want to set an invasive species on the Amazon?
Any answer I give to this would invoke Godwin’s Law and therefore I can’t comment.