Monday, October 19, 2009

Today's Lesson

Listen up, boys and girls. Today we’re going to discuss a very serious environmental problem. Why? Because its cause is pure carelessness and lack of thought. As in it was entirely preventable only now that it’s happening it’s going to be difficult as hell to reverse, not to mention extremely costly.

So what is it I’m yammering about? Pythons in the Everglades. Huh? Yeah, I know that’s what you’re thinking. Stop it and pay attention now please. It is entirely legal to own a Burmese python. You can buy tiny ones for as little as $20.00. The problem is these snakes grow to up to 20 feet long. Not so easy to house, nor handle once they get that big. It seems people think the solution is to release them into the wild. Hmm, okay. They are from Southeast Asia so the climate in southern Florida is conducive to their survival. The environment, however, suffers beyond belief.

These snakes aren’t poisonous. But they do need to eat and a 20 foot snake can eat just about anything that moves. On several occasions lately they’ve been seen fighting with full-sized alligators. Damn big snakes if they can do that. Your cute little puppy wouldn’t be any match for them. Nor are countless small species such as mangrove fox squirrels and wood storks. The presence of these snakes is ruining the natural balance in the Everglades and decimating native dwellers to the point where many are now on the endangered species list.

And to make matters worse, a second variety of python, the African rock python is now showing up in south Florida too. From what I read Burmese pythons are fairly docile but these other ones aren’t. They’re reported as being more likely to strike out when encountered. They are also capable of breeding with the Burmese, better adapted to Florida’s weather which will supposedly create a heartier hybrid, nasty and more tolerant of the climate. Imagine the damage they’ll do.

Do you know how hard it is to combat this sort of thing once the invasive critters are established? Damn near impossible. Ten years ago the US spent $137 billion trying, and failing. Think about that. I’m sure the amount hasn’t decreased since then. That figure isn’t for snakes alone and they’re hardly the only intruder that is causing serious problems.

My point, and yes, I do have one, is if you’re going to own some exotic creature not native to your area be responsible about it. Care for it properly. And if you decide you no longer want it, because yes, creatures generally do grow over time, find it another home. Don’t just toss it out. In the wrong environment, it will die, which is just plain cruel. In one that will support it, it could wreck all sorts of havoc. Think please!


Regina Carlysle said...

People should really consider the consequences when buying these things.

Anny Cook said...

Excellent post!