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Saturday, January 12, 2013

THE GREAT FLORIDA PYTHON HUNT

The weirdest topics get the most site visits.  The World's Largest Dogs and Vegetables got a whole lot of pings.

Snakes also seem to gain some attention.  Well, upcoming is the Year of the Snake.  I've blogged on them in Ireland and Hawaii.  In that latter posting I reported on anacondas up to 150 feet, said to be seen in South Africa.  A thousand pound Brazilian anaconda was supposedly measured to be 34 feet.  But the 50 foot long reticulated python in Indonesia, named Fragrant Flower (that's her  above), was really only 20 feet long.

The current longest snake, a reticulated python, is Medusa from Missouri:


Two of the more famous ones are Burmese Pythons.  A former Guinness record holder (which makes you wonder how careful they are) was 32 foot long Baby, who lived in Illinois:


But she recently passed away, providing the official measurement:  18 feet 10 inches.  Even I can tell an eleven feet difference.  But Fragrant Flower was exaggerated by 14 feet.  So largely ignore these snake stories.  Fluffy, (below) from Ohio, a 24 footer (apparently this length is holding), then became the Guinness longest, but, alas, also expired:


And, no, they are not natural to Missouri, Ohio and Illinois.  Medusa, Baby and Fluffy were pampered in tourist attractions.  

Now you know what the Great Florida Python Hunt--which began for a month today-- participants will search for, as those living in the Everglades are also Burmese Pythons.  These snakes, as anyone who bought one for a pet knows, can grow to 7 feet in a year.  Guess from where the Florida problem came?  A bunch also escaped from a python breeding facility when Hurricane Andrew came through South Florida.   Federal law now sort of controls this commodity, but California is the only state that bans pythons of any kind, including the bags and shoes themselves.  

But do you want to join the Great Florida Python Hunt?  First, your prey (and you might well be it for they are carnivorous) is nocturnal and, two, swims well.  Then, there are poisonous snakes in the same habitat, and mosquitos.  You apparently kill this creature as you would a Zombie:  a bullet to the head or decapitation.  With all those people shooting at anything dark that moves, watch out!  There are 150,000 Burmese Pythons in Florida (Missouri, Ohio and Illinois don't need to feel threatened because pythons can't survive cold weather).  A little more than two thousand have been caught since 2000.  But pythons are considered to be a declining species by the International Union for Conservation Nature and is protected in Hong Kong.  And where is Brigitte Bardot, plus those people from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), anyway?  

Okay, so let's say you become one of the 800 or so approved hunters.  You don't need a special license, but must pass an online course.  If you catch the longest one, you win all of $1000.  Get the most, and you are awarded $1500.  We'll find out if more pythons or humans will be be killed on February 11.  More than anything else, this sure sounds like a Florida Tourism Authority PR ploy.

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