Florida is well-known for its alligator and crocodile population- in fact, in recent months wildlife managers have been experimenting with magnets to repel the reptiles from taking up residence on people’s front lawns. But just when you thought that the biggest reptilian risk to your golf game was the gator hanging out on the 9th hole, a new bad boy’s in town. And this one will occasionally try to eat an alligator, just to show off.
We speak of the rapidly expanding Burmese python infestation. Unlike the gator and croc population, Burmese pythons are willing and able to cross state lines and make themselves at home throughout the Southwest. Science Daily also notes that global warming could increase the hospitable areas for the pythons, so if the glaciers keep melting and the snakes get the travel bug, we may be welcoming the snakes as far West as California and as far North as San Francisco, Virginia and Kansas. (Watch out, Toto: they eat deer, so you’re a mere snack for these guys.)
These snakes can grow up to 20 feet and weigh 250 pounds, so we’re not talking about your ordinary Garter snake nuisance that sends Mrs. Brown screaming into the house while the neighborhood boys laugh. The pythons are an introduced species, most likely the result of pet store and owner releases, and at the moment they’re exploding in numbers and taking over the Everglades to the point that Florida lawmakers have introduced legislation to institute importation bans and other regulations.
The pet industry opposes these laws as well as the possibility that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will declare the snakes to be an “injurious species,” which leads us to assume that the angry pet store owners have not, in point of fact, been on a plane with Samuel L. Jackson lately.
And so we award a Fantasy T-Wearer award to all Florida residents today. May the “Endangered Native” organic T-shirt convince any and all literate pythons that you’re an inappropriate and environmentally irresponsible meal.