No, not Monty Python’s classic comedy troupe. Real snakes – namely, giant Burmese pythons imported as pets from Thailand. According to USA Today, Burmese pythons can grow to be 20 feet long, and weigh 250 pounds! Colonies are starting to pop up in the wild. The first snakes were discovered in the mid-1990s in the Florida Everglades, released by owners who no longer wanted them. They’re not poisonous, and not considered a danger to humans, but they’re highly adaptable to new environments.
The one-time pets form snake colonies, and eat just about everything that moves. Including bobcats, deer, alligators, raccoons, cats, rats, rabbits, ducks, egrets and herons. They grab their prey with their mouth – which can open 180 degrees. Then they coil around the animal and crush it to death, before eating it whole. So, how many snakes are we talking about here? In the past eight years, more than 1 million pythons were imported for commercial sale and nearly half of them were sent to Miami, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Which is why so many abandoned pets are being found there.
Five years ago, 23 pythons were removed from the Florida Everglades. Last year, it was 154. As global warming progresses, they won’t be confined to Florida. Scientists say that within 100 years, pythons will have colonized one-third of the United States and they’ll be slithering along the Virginia coast, across Texas and the Southwest, and as far North as San Francisco. Of course, if you see a python in the wild, don’t attempt to catch it. You’re likely to get badly bitten and crushed for your efforts. Instead, leave the area, and notify the authorities. If you have a snake you don’t want any more – don’t dump it in the wild. That goes for fish, rabbits, and any other pets you want to get rid of. Introducing non-native species to delicate ecosystems is incredibly destructive. Instead, talk to your local animal control department - or an exotic animal sanctuary - about “rehoming” your former pet.