Posts Tagged ‘python’

Python v. Florida: Swallowing Ethics

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

As you probably know, Burmese pythons have been found in South Florida, including in the Florida Keys.  What is not widely reported is that the Everglades population is estimated to exceed 150,000 pythons, meaning the species is now established there permanently.  People I know there talk about the disappearance of ground dwelling birds and mammals in areas populated by the pythons.  Tragically, those tasked with addressing the problem have been using shotguns to dispatch the pythons; one avowed nature lover I know boasted driving a car over a python to protect the glades.   An ethics question:  if the snakes are now part of our eco-system, is it responsible for biologists to kill them?  …to kill them inhumanely? 

Jurisdiction after jurisdiction (and congress) is considering and often passing anti-reptile keeping legislation.  Given this, and regardless whether they are ever negligently released, is it responsible to sell tens of thousands of giant pythons each year? …to teenagers?

Here is a good link to Allen Salzberg’s coverage of the issue in HerpDigest.   Here is a link to Tom Crutchfield’s take on the issue on  Readers of The Lizard King know that Tom Crutchfield is a pioneer in the reptile business and a world-class smuggler in his heyday- He is also a very knowledgeable guy. 

Below is the Today Show story on the Burmese pythons loose in South Florida/Keys (ps. that first shot is a boa).

Snakehunting the Oscars

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

If you’re like me, I’m sorry.  But if you’re like me you’re always snake hunting.  You judge the distance between the dumpster and the woods behind your local Target…on road trips, you keep a running ticker in your mind, evaluating the time of day, the temp., and the last time it rained as you look for downed street signs and decaying barns, nodding to whatever the driver has to say about the Phillies or her new problem at work.  You notice snakeskin bags and boots, lizardskin wristwatch straps and business card cases.  You open magazines and look for snakes.  You can find them easily most months in Vanity Fair (e.g., page 9,  March 2009,, and the Sunday New York Times Magazine (page 53,  Feb. 15, 2009 Marc Jacobs –but also look for the reptilian bits this week on the shelves of Yves Saint Laurent, pp. 44-45 (see star tortoise shell?))–really, there is no out of season when it comes to reptiles killed for fashion. 

If you’re like me you try to ID whatever you find from the snatch of skin.  (The correct answer is almost always reticulated python.)  It’s The Year of the Python.   Last year I was invited to where all those python skin fashions begin.  This year, while watching the Oscars you may see a python or two walking the red carpet, or maybe a monitor lizard (on a watch strap) shaking hands with a star, giving you a chance to flip some tin without ever leaving your sofa.  Try it.  You’ll be amazed how much reptile is all around you.