No Monty jokes...
June 17, 2008 8:32 AM   Subscribe

Earlier this year, the US Fish and Wildlife service opened an inquiry into the possibility of adding all snakes of the genera Boa, Python and Eunectes to the Injurious Species List.

This move would effectively ban the import, export and inter-state trade of all species within these genera. The move follows increased sightings of Burmese Pythons in the Florida Everglades. These snakes are large, powerful constrictors that are capable of killing an adult human. Burmese pythons do have very specific care requirements but they are able to survive year-round in the warm, moist Everglades environment.

The National Park Service has been keeping a close eye on their invasion, and the Pythons are already enjoying the occasional endangered Woodrat.

The pet reptile industry is already up in arms about the ban, pointing out that several smaller, less dangerous species such as the extremely popular Ball Python would also be restricted under such a wide ban. Of course, some snake owners are not exactly helping their cause. Other reptile breeders also argue that the Everglades are a unique environment, and that the snakes could not invade any other areas of the continental US. However, the United States Geological Survey disagrees, and suspects that global climate change will only make matters worse.
posted by WinnipegDragon (11 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
All the best animals are banned:
§ 16.11 Importation of live wild mammals.
(a) The importation, transportation,
or acquisition is prohibited of live
specimens of: (1) Any species of socalled
‘‘flying fox’’ or fruit bat of the
genus Pteropus; (2) any species of mongoose
or meerkat of the genera Atilax,
Cynictis, Helogale, Herpestes, Ichneumia,
Mungos, and Suricata; (3) any species of
European rabbit of the genus
Oryctolagus; (4) any species of Indian
wild dog, red dog, or dhole of the genus
Cuon; (5) any species of multimammate
rat or mouse of the genus Mastomys; (6)
any raccoon dog, Nyctereutes
procyonoides; and (7) any brushtail possum,
Trichosurus vulpecula
Who doesn't want furry flocks of flying fox snatching pears midair while you stare?
posted by pracowity at 9:48 AM on June 17, 2008

So at the moment they can only eat Floridians?

I fail to see the problem here.
posted by JaredSeth at 10:28 AM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]

If they're going to do that, they'd better put horses on the list too. Horses are highly dangerous, many die from injuries caused by them, and if they escape they'll go feral. They're sure as hell more dangerous than a little ball python.
posted by mullingitover at 10:50 AM on June 17, 2008

Horses are easy to control. Blam. Dead. You could wipe out the wild horse population of any country in one hunting season.

Snakes aren't so easy. Try hunting pythons in the Everglades.
For now, the alligators in the Florida Everglades are holding their ground against the invading snakes. But the odds may be changing. The park is being overrun with Burmese pythons, one of the world's largest snakes. These pythons can grow to be more than 20 feet (6 meters) long in their natural habitat in Southeast Asia.
posted by pracowity at 11:14 AM on June 17, 2008

pracowity writes "Try hunting pythons in the Everglades."

Trust me, if you sell the hunting licenses, people will. In droves.
posted by mullingitover at 11:29 AM on June 17, 2008

Especially if 'thems is good eatin'...
posted by WinnipegDragon at 2:10 PM on June 17, 2008

JaredSeth, It's true that there is a genetic push toward stupidity in Florida, driven by immigration of retired people, but this is partially mitigated by hurricanes and alligators. Btw, Alligators don't eat Floridians, well no one would care as they are past reproductive age. Alligators eat grand children of retirees who ask their families to post with the alligators, but this is quite a large part of their diet. So our whole problem is that he pythons are eating the alligators, not the Floridians' relatives.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:08 PM on June 17, 2008

Trust me, if you sell the hunting licenses, people will. In droves.

Fine. Do it. Let the Fudds adjust their ear flaps and get to work on the problem.

But you'd still have a hell of a time eradicating these pests now that thousands have been released. Worse, the Fudds would want to preserve enough of them so that they could go crashing through the Everglades hunting pythons every year, and the state of Florida would see dollar signs in the idea of selling annual snake-hunting licenses, so the problem would never quite go away.

You have to kill as many as possible and ban their import and sale, and eventually you have to ban their possession or you'll always have plenty of dorks releasing them when they get too bothersome to keep at home.
posted by pracowity at 2:41 AM on June 18, 2008

Barry White would be appalled...
posted by Pinback at 2:53 AM on June 18, 2008

But you'd still have a hell of a time eradicating these pests now that thousands have been released.

Thousands? I think that's likely a gross overestimation of the number released into the wild.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 6:41 AM on June 18, 2008

Maybe. It's hard to say.

A 2005 article says there have been 144000 Burmese pythons imported into the US in the last five years. Something like 29000 a year. In four years, each of those snakes is pretty much fully grown, maybe getting near 15 or 20 feet and pushing, what, 150 or 200 pounds? Big enough to kill a man. And it's going to be hanging around the house for the next 10 or 15 years, munching on expensive food. Maybe your life changes -- you get a real job, get married, get cats and dogs, have babies, get a real house, move to a different town -- but the python just keeps getting bigger and scarier and harder to house and feed. Human babies are snack-size. Feed me, Seymour.

How many of the 29000 python buyers every year eventually snap and become python releasers a few years down the road? Say it's just 1 in a 100, and that the other 99 are happy to have giant snakes about the house for the next 15 or 20 years regardless of wives and toddlers and so on. That's getting near 300 pythons released every year. I can see how this could be thousands released over the years.

Not all of them are released in Florida, but a disproportionate number will be because people love their pets and, while up to a third of the US can support these snakes, Florida is perfect for them.

So now they are reproducing in Florida. A python mother will lay one to three dozen eggs. And you have to find and kill them.
posted by pracowity at 10:09 AM on June 18, 2008

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