November 6, 2009

Large Snakes On The Loose In Florida

Officials in Florida say they are seeing more invasive species of snakes entering into the warm semi-tropic climate.

"Compounding their risk to native species and ecosystems is that these snakes mature early, produce large numbers of offspring, travel long distances, and have broad diets that allow them to eat most native birds and mammals," Gordon Rodda, scientist at the Fort Collins Science Center, told AFP.

Rodda recently issued a report to the US Geological Survey noting that there appears to be no real way to stop the invasive creatures, such as boa constrictors and African pythons, from entering Florida.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says that many of the snakes enter into urban environments after being pets.

However, AFP reported that the issue could be linked to the events of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Katrina in 2005, during which several snakes escaped from pet shops during the storms.

On Thursday, professional animal trapper Justin Matthews admitted to staging an event in which he caught a 14-foot python in a drain pipe in Bradenton, Florida in July.

According to Reuters, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Matthews "staged the event to call attention to a growing problem of irresponsible pet ownership."

Matthews had purchased the Burmese python from a dealer one month before the event and let it loose in the drain pipe before calling investigators to the scene.


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