Python Action Team
August 22, 2019 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Python wars: the snake epidemic eating away at Florida "There are tens of thousands of pythons in the Florida wild, attacking animals and damaging ecosystems – and the quest to stop them has become a collective crusade. [. . .] "the FWC (Florida fish and wildlife conservation commission) and the South Florida water management district each created independent python removal squads in 2017 of hardy, civic-minded individuals who are skilled at capturing the non-native constrictors" (SLGuardian) (CW: of course, some pictures of snakes plus some of the links in the article lead to possibly disturbing videos or articles.)
posted by soundguy99 (30 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Really interesting article and it's nice that they're able to employ veterans and help them heal. It's an unfortunate job but somebody's gotta do it it sounds like.
posted by bleep at 5:51 PM on August 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


And I thought C++ was bad.
posted by clawsoon at 6:05 PM on August 22, 2019 [20 favorites]


I came here for programming jokes.
pip install puns
posted by a complicated history at 6:20 PM on August 22, 2019 [12 favorites]


I guess the XFL went with Tampa bay vipers because Tampa bay Invasive Pythons was too cumbersome
posted by Redhush at 6:35 PM on August 22, 2019 [5 favorites]


The bit about how one of the interviewees is no longer fazed by the eight-footers anymore b/c the size now seems quaint, followed up by how Burmese pythons can grow up to 20 ft in length, is gonna stick with me for a while. I think the ceiling of the room I'm currently in maybe goes up to 20 ft, but maybe it's shorter. That's a long legless boi
posted by rather be jorting at 6:43 PM on August 22, 2019 [6 favorites]


Now if they were planning ahead, the trick is to use mkvirtualenv to keep your python imports confined so they don't contaminate your core environment with incompatibilities.

Moving past the programming jokes (for now) I was amused that they had to explain no-see-ums were a type of midges for their British audience.
posted by traveler_ at 6:48 PM on August 22, 2019 [11 favorites]


tens of thousands of pythons
vs
30-50 feral hogs

Fight!
posted by Foosnark at 7:10 PM on August 22, 2019 [16 favorites]


Python vs hog really depends on size. A full grown Burm can eat a whole human, or an alligator (google it if you want; ew) so an adult hog is within their capabilities.

I'm expecting that reticulated pythons and green anacondas will be the next giant snakes to be banned in Florida. They're both fairly common in the pet trade and would thrive in the Everglades. Some already do, I'm sure. Both species can get near twenty feet and, just for fun, females can reproduce asexually if there are no males around.
posted by cmyk at 7:15 PM on August 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


OMG they escaped north.
posted by sammyo at 7:39 PM on August 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


This potent charm, never known to fail, stops all pythons:
s/^\s+//
posted by scruss at 7:41 PM on August 22, 2019 [6 favorites]


I remember reading something in an "invasive species" part of those "when humans are gone" books that - absent humans - the Burmese python would become the apex predator in the American SE wetlands within a century or two.

This change would displace the American alligator, which only held the position for like two-hundred-million years, give or take.
posted by absalom at 7:48 PM on August 22, 2019 [5 favorites]


Ah this was my favorite little subplot in Michael Chabon's excellent book Moonglow, essentially a fictionalized retelling of his grandfather's life. In between old war stories, meeting his grandmother, etc., the anchor story they keep returning to is when his grandfather is an old man living in a retirement home in Florida. Other residents' pets start disappearing and everyone suspects it might be a python living in a nearby abandoned sub-division, so the grandfather and one of the employees at the home team up and go on hunting missions.
posted by mannequito at 8:15 PM on August 22, 2019 [3 favorites]


The thing I find particularly interesting is the success rate of different tactics that were used to remove pythons in the past:

From The Miami Herald:

"For years, wildlife managers struggled to contain the snakes with traps and poisoned prey. In recent years, state officials have offered incentives for snake hunters, paying people for their catch.
In March 2017 the South Florida Water Management District launched a python elimination program that has been wildly successful among trappers. The program has eliminated nearly 3,000 pythons, with hunters getting paid a minimum wage hourly rate for up to 10 hours a day plus a bonus for the catch: $50 for each python measuring up to 4 feet plus $25 more for each food measured above 4 feet. An additional $200 is paid for a nesting female. The district’s budget for the program this year is $225,000. It wasn’t immediately clear how much more money the state would devote to the program."

It’s almost as if a Green New Deal policy of hiring people and paying them to help the environment can actually work.
posted by edgybelle27 at 8:39 PM on August 22, 2019 [16 favorites]


Worse than the conda distribution.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:23 PM on August 22, 2019 [3 favorites]


Burmese pythons have no natural predators here

Florida Needs Samuel L. Jackson. "Enough is ENOUGH! I have had it with these mother_______ snakes on this mother_______ plane!"
posted by mundo at 12:24 AM on August 23, 2019


The biggest snake I have seen in the wild was bigger than my thigh. A snake bigger than that is not a pleasant thought.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:54 AM on August 23, 2019


Edgybelle27, tell me that these people have heard of the cobra effect? Putting a bounty on unwanted snakes has, uhh... had mixed success.
posted by Arandia at 1:26 AM on August 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


“A 2012 study in the Everglades suggested that a disturbing number of mammals have been swallowed by the invasive species: a spike in python sightings since 2000 coincided with a more than 90% reduction in raccoons, opossums and rabbits.”
And not just mammals but birds. The snakes climb trees and eat eggs out of nests; ground-nesting fowl have also been seriously impacted. Pythons have been captured as far North as Palm Beach county on the E side of Lake Okeechobee and their potential range extends to Orlando.

Yet another exotic in S FL. We have feral monitor lizards in the Ft. Myers/Charlotte/Cape Coral area, flocks of parrots and parakeets from Miami to Ft. Lauderdale, and feral chimps on Merritt Island. It’s a jungle out there. But at least, reportedly, the snakes taste like chicken.*

*I can’t personally attest to that. I’ve only eaten rattlesnake which definitely did not taste like chicken.
posted by sudogeek at 5:01 AM on August 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Evidently, the Python As Expensive Delicacy lobby has not be as successful as they would have liked.
Create demand, demand raises price per pound, price per pound creates more python hunters, more python hunters would hopefully mean more dead pythons.
And it probably tastes like chicken, but I am afraid to try it.
posted by Bill Watches Movies Podcast at 5:03 AM on August 23, 2019


edgybelle27, you have to be careful with bounty programs, or you'll get people breeding pythons-- and possibly nurturing them to get extra length.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 5:42 AM on August 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


I know they're invasive but every time I see pics of wild parakeet flocks in improbable places it cheers me up a bit. I never would have guessed that would happen.

(waits for someone to tell her of all the horrible damage wild parakeets cause)
posted by emjaybee at 7:14 AM on August 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Northeasterners better drop the smug: There's a six-to-eight-foot long Burmese python on the loose in Newton, MA. Fortunately, Lightning was fed not long before he escaped his owner's back yard. But police are urging caution:
Though the snake was living with a family, we’re advising as we do with any wildlife, to use caution, not approach it and call our dispatch directly at 617 796-2100 (Do Not call our Animal Control)
posted by adamg at 7:18 AM on August 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


But in the end, the worst invasive species was us.
posted by TedW at 8:14 AM on August 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


Edgybelle27, tell me that these people have heard of the cobra effect? Putting a bounty on unwanted snakes has, uhh... had mixed success.

Ah, it's nice to put a name to the scam I ran on my parents in elementary school. They told me they'd give me a dime for every dandelion flower I picked out of our yard. Being a letter-of-the-law type of kid, I never would have stooped to picking them from other peoples' yards and presenting them for the bounty... but I had no problem gathering dandelion puffs from around the neighborhood and blowing them into our yard while my parents weren't home.

The incentive program was eliminated after they had to pay me $10 one day for a bumper crop of dandelions.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:31 AM on August 23, 2019 [11 favorites]


This time of year, I used to see anoles running across the sidewalk. Now, it's green iguanas. I think the pythons are going to win this one.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:04 AM on August 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Wiki had a link to numbers: "A 2012 report stated, "in areas where the snakes are well established, foxes and rabbits have disappeared. Sightings of raccoons are down by 99.3%, opossums by 98.9%, and white-tailed deer by 94.1%."

Which raises the questions "How many of these snakes are out there and how much do they eat?
posted by Mitheral at 5:57 PM on August 23, 2019


I asked a scientist because I thought the solution might be to sell pythomelets and python sausages in upscale south Florida B&Bs. Apparently they're chock full of mercury, so eating them is out.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:26 AM on August 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


The biggest snake I have seen in the wild was bigger than my thigh. A snake bigger than that is not a pleasant thought.

There are some documentaries about the extinct titanoboa, which would have trouble making it through a doorway, that you shouldn't watch.

the important thing is that it's pronounced "tighten-AH-bwah."
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 11:43 AM on August 24, 2019


the important thing is that it's pronounced "tighten-AH-bwah."

That is scarier than the snake. I am on team "titan-oh-boa."
posted by Dip Flash at 11:47 AM on August 24, 2019


I am also on team "titan-oh-boa," which sounds a bit like a fanciful Irish name for a very big boa.
posted by rather be jorting at 9:39 PM on August 24, 2019


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