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Topic: Snake!!!, no... try Python.< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
Capn Jimbo Offline
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Posted: Jan. 25 2007,19:20

Let's see:  they got tired of torturing animals, so they decided to blow $20 to buy a cute little baby python and get off on feedin it live rats - what fun watching the death throes of those lil rodents.  But when that cute lil Burmese grows to be 7 ft long in just the first year, things start to get a bit, uh, sticky.

According to Wikipedia "...cage cleaning can be difficult, as the feces of the snake are large, and adult pythons can produce droppings large enough to require a shovel to pick up."  It's about that time that frantic owners tire of shoveling rats in one end and Burma poo out at the other and pack the growing monster off to Route 27 and let him/her go.What happens?  According to Salon "An estimated 1,000 to 10,000 pythons now slither freely throughout southern Florida, eating birds, rabbits, raccoons, gray squirrels and possums. But they also take on bigger prey."

Are they dangerous?  You bet.  These cute lil guys can grow to 21 feet or more, 200 lbs or more and are fully capable of killing and digesting even large mammals - including pregnant sheep, 6 foot gators, and even human beings (a mere 13 footer recently killed his 15 year old owner).  Pythons can be aggressive and are known to attack prey much larger than they can digest.

Not good.  Uncontrolled, pythons will continue to compete with our native gators as the dominant predator in our beloved Everglades.  In Burma pythons now number in the MILLIONS, and have elimnated a significant number of bird and other wildlife species there.

Are they a danger to kayakers?

Yes.  Quoting CNN:

Pythons are extremely agile on the ground or climbing trees, they are excellent swimmers, and the south Florida region shares a similar climate and environment to their native habitat.

The snakes are non-venomous constrictors, and although they don't have fangs they are formidable predators able to ambush and suffocate prey with deadly precision before swallowing their victim whole.

They are quiet, agile and expert at laying (or hanging) in wait.  They sense their prey by smell (forked tongue) and by sensing the victims heat (warm blood).  They constrict and suffocate their target to death, then begin digesting the prey, bones and all, head first.  

Is this a high risk?  Not yet.  Is it a real risk?  It is.  

How a python attacks:

Although we think of pythons as slow moving, when they do strike it can be almost faster than the eye can see.  They tend to bite and hold, then wrap and constrict.  Once a python has clamped on, you are close to done for.  The jaws and constricting coils are so strong it might take 6 or more strong humans to disengage it.  And like the gator, the pythons teeth are so foul that even if you survive, a terrible infection is probable.

This does not bode well.  So what are my recommendations?

1.  If you know someone who is getting tired of caring for his growing problem, please discourage them from letting it go.  I suspect there are organizations who would accept the reptile, but I can't name one.  If you know of one, please post it.  

I am tempted to advise owners that it would be kinder to all to simply kill the unwanted python.

2.  It would not be a bad idea to carry a serious large combat knife or machete (as is done in Africa).  If attacked things will happen fast, so your knife needs to be handy as you may have to literally cut the snake in half, before it constricts you to death.  Keep your arm/hand/knife free and away from your body so that the python cannot ensnare it - your brief opportunity to cut the snake depends on this.  

A snake handler in Tarpon Springs was attacked by his python - it took 5 people and a police officer using a Taser to dislodge it.

3. Be aware - very aware - pythons blend in VERY well with their environment, so even if you are looking or paddling very close to one you may not see it.  They are often in tree, waiting to drop so do scan like a pilot does - left/right/up/down.  Be very careful in mangrove tunnels.

Most look like this one...

A few are more yellow...

4. The python kills by constricting with it's coils.  Each time the victim takes a breath, the python tightens.  A few deep breaths and you will have taken your last.  Accordingly, if you can stay calm - expand your chest, and breath very slowly and shallowly you may be able to buy a little time.  You must start cutting immediately to free your chest.

5.  A smaller python may be able to be "unwound" by starting at the tail - not the head.

The key is to avoid attack, as your chances are slim indeed once your are.  You must act quickly while you are conscious and have the strength to do so.

Last, it seems that as of now kayakers face no substantial risk; still it is clear there is SOME risk - as the number of pythons in the Everglades is nearing a critical mass beyond which they may explode in numbers and dramatically alter the Glades...


From "Bring 'Em Back Alive:The Best of Frank Buck":

"Once I was forced to kill a python according to the old jungle rule of self-preservation. It happened that I was releasing a pelandok (mouse deer) from a native trap. When the tiny animal had scampered back into the forest, I decided to break up the trap. As I reached for it, something struck my arm like a hammer blow. I felt a painfully strong grip on my forearm, and then I saw the head of an immense python.

"The jaws were firmly clamped on my arm. Through the intense pain I realized that once he got his coils around my body he could crush out my life in a minute. I called for Ali, who quickly started hacking at the python's neck with his parang as a coil of the snake's body went round my arm. The pressure on my arm was tremendous--it seemed that any moment the terrible strain must snap the bone.

Somehow, with the superhuman effort men manage under stress, I loosed my revolver from its holster with my free hand. I had to be careful not to shoot into my arm, but I quickly brought up the gun and put three rapid shots into the back of the snake's head. There was a slackening of pressure on my arm; a wave of relief swept through my body as the python slid to the ground and I stood free.

There were twenty-two sharp triangular teeth which came loose from the snake's jaws into my arm. I stood gritting my teeth as these were picked out with tweezers, one by one. My arm and shoulder were miserably sore for more than a week, but the only permanent harm was that I had merely a dead python on my hands--and my business is bringing back live ones."

Edited by Capn Jimbo on Jan. 25 2007,19:27

Tight lines,
Capn Jimbo

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Variable Offline

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Posted: Jan. 26 2007,08:18

Dang Capt. And here I was planning a Flamingo trip next week, lol!
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