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.
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.
“You’d be hard pressed to find a rabbit or squirrel down there in the Everglades now,” said Randy Smith, a spokesperson for the South Florida Water Management District. “These snakes eat alligators – or they try to. They don’t have any enemies and they eat anything they can get their teeth on.”
And pythons’ diets can extend to the extreme, and the macabre:
“Cats, pigs, and antelope are regular fare for pythons; rarer treats have included a 14-year-old boy, a Burmese jewelry salesman, and an alligator,” according to LiveScience.
At 18-feet, 2-inches the serpent caught this past Tuesday on a levee about 25 miles west of Miami didn’t set the state record as the longest-ever Burmese python found in Florida.
That distinction belongs to a snake that stretched 18 feet, 8 inches, caught in a rural part of Miami-Dade County last year.
(Above: The 18-foot, 2-inch Burmese python caught in the Florida Everglades earlier this week.)