Invasive Species in Florida
Should exotic snakes or other large reptiles be allowed as pets in Florida? Right now these escaped/released feral reptiles create an estimated $120 billion in environmental damage each year according to David Steen on Slates Animal Blog.
Exotic snakes such as the python, boa constrictors and anaconda as well as the Monitor and Tegu lizard are taking over central and southern Florida and pose an extreme threat to the eco- system and to the families that are residing there.
The invasive reptiles are eating almost everything in sight like raccoons, opossums, bobcats, alligators and many federally protected animals like the Key Largo wood rat and Wood stork. There have been cases of children and pets being eaten or even squeezed to death by the large snakes in their own yards.
This is not the first time or even the first animal to have become a problem. Other problem animals such as the feral hogs, Norwegian rats and the German ...view middle of the document...
Then, after the pythons had settled in, they allowed 19 people to come in one at a time and look for pythons for 30 minutes each. Although each of the 19 people could have potentially found all 10 snakes (a total of 190 potential finds), only two finds were recorded over the entire study. In other words, even when we are looking for snakes in a small area and know they are there, we probably only have about a 1 percent chance of seeing them.” -David Steen.
With less than 2% of estimated numbers being recovered each year we can be sure that this problem will persist well into the future, as well as a reorganization of the food chain. While most Florida residences I’ve talked to prefer a catch and release method some have proposed a more aggressive and more permanent measure. The term boot and bag hunt as well as steak and snake Bar-B-Q’s were mentioned, complete with a fair like atmosphere to promote the event. Similar events have been held in the past in Florida with much success, such as the shark rodeo, and alligator round up. The feeling being that all this started with a few well intentioned people releasing overgrown pets into the wild either because they couldn’t care for them or just failed to contain them which lead to 1.7 million acres being infested, the numbers are to great to hope to be able to just remove the threat, and the only way to be sure is to create an appetite for the snakes and their skins as well as the large lizards skins. While most people would not agree to this as a viable option they were intrigued by the possibility of lower cost animal skin boots and bags and so opinions could be swung in the near future.
In closing, the exotic reptiles have become entrenched in the humid semi tropical regions of central and south Florida. Their numbers can only be guessed at and there are no definite answers as to how to handle the invasive species’. While residences and officials struggle to get a handle on the situation, their numbers continue to grow as well as their effect on everything they touch.