Wednesday, June 24, 2009

SNAKES on... your grass.

This week has been a rough one for fear.
First, we catch wind of stalker sharks... and now, on the heels of that frightening story,
comes this one:
"Man-eating pythons headed to Georgia?"
"At the Savannah River Ecology Lab in South Carolina, seven slithering Burmese pythons were released last week into a snake pit surrounded by 400 feet of reinforced fence. As they were released by a handful of scientists, some of the serpents hissed and lunged, baring their fangs. Others coiled up under the brush. Two slid into a pond in the center of the pit, disappearing in a snaking trail of bubbles. Some were more than 10 feet long and thicker than a forearm. And for the next year all of them will call this snake pit — an enclosed area of tangled brush and trees — home.
Ecologists will track the exotic pythons, all captured in Florida, to determine if they can survive in climates a few hundred miles to the north, including Georgia. Using implanted radio transmitters and data recorders, the scientists will monitor the pythons’ body temperature and physical condition.
The test could show whether the giant imported snakes, which can grow up to lengths of 25 feet, are able to spread throughout the Southeast.
The fast-growing population of snakes has been invading southern Florida’s ecosystem since 1992, when scientists speculate a bevy of Burmese pythons was released into the wild after Hurricane Andrew shattered many pet shop terrariums.
Now scientists fear this invasive species is silently slithering northward.

“They of course have an impact on native species,” said said herpetologist Whit Gibbons, a professor of ecology at the University of Georgia and a member of the python project. “If you have a big old python eating five times as much as another species that eats the same prey, it’s a competitive thing.” The pythons compete with alligators, among other top predators.

Gibbons said a human is “just another prey item” to a python — especially a small human. Pythons are constrictor snakes and have been known to eat people in their native areas of Southeast Asia, he added.

What are the chances of escape? “We never want to say never.” "

Um. Yeah.
Another great reason to stay inside.

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