usa-florida-python

If it’s true that fear of snakes is among the most common phobias known to humans – and personal experience would indicate this is the case among nearly every adult woman and most men – then the Greater Everglades Chamber of Commerce has some mighty big obstacles to overcome.

Earlier this week, officials in the Sunshine State said they shot and killed a Burmese python in the Everglades that stretched more than 18 feet and weighed 150 pounds.

If confirmed, it would make it the largest snake ever captured in the famed wetlands region of Florida, which is noted for its wildlife, particularly reptiles.

The Burmese python is able to thrive in the Everglades because it’s an invasive species with no natural predators in the area.

“The number of pythons has skyrocketed, with more than 300 pythons being removed from the Everglades every year since 2007,” according to the online publication LiveScience. “Researchers don’t know their true numbers but estimate at least tens of thousands of the giant snakes inhabit the National Everglades Park.”

Tens of thousands?!? Even non-herpetophobes get creeped out by those numbers.

The snakes are wiping out native wildlife like bobcats, foxes and raccoons, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

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copperhead

Pity the poor Maryland woman who was hit with a $55,000 medical bill after being treated for a venomous snake bite.

Pity her not for being bitten – she was treated at a Bethesda, Md., hospital and is now doing fine – but for her apparent lack of common sense or, more likely, lack of gratitude.

Jules Weiss, according to a story aired on WRC-TV in Washington, DC, had stopped to take a photo at an overlook along the George Washington Parkway. On the way back to her car, she felt something bite her.

Turns out it was a Copperhead, although the story makes it sound as though Weiss wasn’t aware of being bitten by a venomous snake. (How she didn’t happen to see the snake after it bit her isn’t addressed in the story.)

“It felt just like a bee sting,” she told the station. “There were two fang marks with liquid coming out.”

So what did the former emergency medical technician do? Nothing, apparently. It was only an hour later that she noticed her foot had turned “grayish” and started to swell.

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gaboon viper fangs

A Utah man is in a bit of hot water after firefighters, responding to a report of a blaze, found half a dozen venomous snakes among 28 serpents in the individual’s home, located in Clearfield, north of Salt Lake City.

The unidentified individual did not have a permit for the venomous snakes, which were uninjured in the fire.

The vipers, which were kept in cages in a separate room, included five rattlesnakes, and, rather astonishingly, a gaboon viper, one of the most deadly snakes known to man.

Gaboon vipers, which grow up to six feet in length, are native to sub-Saharan Africa, have fangs up to two inches long and possess the highest venom yield of any snake in the world.

The snake’s bite can, not surprisingly, have a rather distasteful effect on humans, including: rapid and conspicuous swelling, intense pain, severe shock, defecation, urination, swelling of the tongue and eyelids, convulsions and unconsciousness. In addition, there may be sudden hypotension, heart damage and shortness of breath. The victim’s blood may become incoagulable with internal bleeding that may lead to vomiting of blood.

(I know what you’re thinking: Urination, defecation and vomiting of blood - now that’s a good time.)

Also, local tissue damage may require surgical excision and possibly amputation. Healing may be slow and fatalities during the recovery period are not uncommon.

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golden lancehead

Thirty miles off the coast of Brazil and less than 100 miles from São Paulo, one of the world’s largest and most congested cities, lies a 110-acre subtropical island called Ilha de Queimada Grande. Sounds perfect for an idyllic retreat, right?

No, not in this case. Ilha de Queimada Grande has a population of exactly zero. That would be because the Brazilian Navy prohibits anyone from landing on the island.

Even fans of limited government would have to agree that the reason is a good one: Ilha de Queimada Grande is literally infested with one of most venomous species of snakes known to man, the golden lancehead.

How infested, you ask? To the tune of one golden lancehead per square meter. For those of you who struggle with the metric system, that’s roughly one bad snake every 3-1/2 feet.

Some researchers have estimated that as many as five golden lancehead per square meter can be found on Ilha de Queimada Grande, according to Atlas Obscura. (The island, also known colloquially in English as Snake Island, is covered with jungle, hence the high density as the vipers  inhabit trees and the island floor.)

The lancehead genus of snakes is responsible for 90 percent of Brazilian snakebite-related fatalities.

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Killdeer 008 a

My 2013 Mess with Nature Tour found me in a small churchyard in a neighboring South Carolina county this past weekend, where I came across a clutch of killdeer eggs and one very aggravated mama killdeer.

Prior adventures this summer in the never-ending quest to snare (and release) God’s creations include catching a baby turkey, catching and being bitten by two separate black snakes, catching but not being bitten by any of half a dozen Eastern box turtles, being outsmarted by several baby moorhens, along with numerous run-ins with lizards, skinks and anoles.

The latest occurred while I was in a quiet graveyard off a two-lane state highway. The cemetery, enclosed by a beautiful old stone wall, was without trees and had little vegetation except grass.

As I wandered about, an adult killdeer about 15 feet in front of me suddenly began plying its “broken-wing” routine, squawking and struggling to keep its balance.

Thinking there were babies about, I quickly scanned the area, but saw none. With nothing but headstones in the graveyard I knew there was nowhere to hide, so I determined there must be a clutch of eggs somewhere close.

I scoured the ground along a 20-square-foot patch of ground, but found nothing, so I then tried a bit of triangulation, seeing which movement caused the killdeer to come back toward me most rapidly.

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Newberry Fairfield 19 20 May 2013 283

Hot, muggy weather returned to my realm this past weekend, and with it came an abundance of wildlife.

Yesterday, while spending the day with Daughter No. 4, we caught four turtles, one rat snake, one glass lizard, wildflowers galore, and, the highlight of the day, a baby turkey, or poult.

(Of course, we rang up a big fat zero on the day’s stated goal: catching fish.)

Now, no offense to aficionados of turtles, snakes or glass lizards, but catching the baby turkey was definitely the highlight.

While driving in a rural part of a rural county toward mid-afternoon we spied a hen on the side of the road. My daughter also caught sight of several youngsters, so I stopped the car and set off into the underbrush while she grabbed the camera.

The hen immediately began clucking and trotting in large circles around me, trying to draw me away from her babies. My daughter began taking pictures every time the hen ventured near her while I crouched in the brush stock still, trying to catch sight or sound of the youngsters.

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In a discovery certain to send shivers down the spine of anyone working in the Everglades tourism bureau, Florida officials Monday announced the capture of the largest Burmese python ever found in the Sunshine State – a leviathan more than 17 feet in length.

Not only was the python of record-setting length – at 17-feet-seven-inches it broke the old state record by nearly a foot – extremely long, it also contained 87 eggs, also thought to be a record.

“This thing is monstrous, it’s about a foot wide,” Kenneth Krysko, the herpetology collection manager at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Scientists at the University of Florida-based museum examined the 164.5-pound snake on Friday as part of a government research project into managing the pervasive effect of Burmese pythons in Florida, according to Agence France-Presse.

The giant snakes are native to Southeast Asia and were first found in the Everglades in 1979. They prey on native birds, deer, bobcats, alligators and other large animals.

Pythons kill their prey by coiling around it and suffocating it. They have been known to swallow animals as large as deer and alligators.

“A 17½-foot snake could eat anything it wants,” Krysko said.

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*Not to be confused with the more snobbish Northern game of “Hagfish and Ladders.”

 

“Monster rattlesnake found near SC border” headlinesWIS story. However, it’s not entirely clear where or when the rattler was killed, or even if it’s as large as claimed.

WIS, in its usual sensationalistic mode, grabbed the story from Charleston station WCSC. It begins:

A picture of a Savannah man has gone viral on the Internet. The photo shows Nick Kearns holding one of the biggest rattlesnakes most will ever see. Kearns says the picture is real – no photoshop here.

Most of the guys involved  in the snake encounter say it is something they will talk about the rest of their lives.

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