Invasive species can be a real problem for the environments that they are introduced to. Whether it’s the lionfish in the Florida Keys or rabbits multiplying in Australia, they can affect and even destroy ecosystems beyond repair. But one subject that I really feel strongly about is the increasing problem of large pythons in Southern Florida.
These pythons were brought over from their native countries and regions so that people could domesticate them and keep them as pets. Some species of snake stay small but others like the reticulated python can grow up to 20 feet long. Due to the owners being unable to care for these large and often very expensive animals, their solution is to release them into the wild. This is where the snakes are introduced into ecosystems where they do not belong, eating much of the food source of other animals and sometimes finding their way back into urban settings.
The reason I feel so strongly about this subject is because I have a real passion for snakes. I’ve always wanted one of my own and have taken care of them in the past. I realize that they are causing a problem for local species, and I do think that something should be done about it, but when you have bands of hunters seeking these snakes out and killing as many as they can, I can’t help but feel that this is a bad course of action.
This also reminds me of an even worse subject which is the Rattlesnake Roundups that happen in places like Texas and New Mexico. On one hand in Florida you have people hunting a species that has invaded their ecosystem, but in the instance of the Rattlesnake Roundup, you have people competing in a contest to go out in the Rattlesnakes own native habitat and kill as many of these snakes that are sometimes even endangered. They blame these snakes for injuries and deaths they cause, often when someone has irritated them or entered their territory, but it is also the Rattlesnake’s venom that cures people and makes certain medicines.
The growing population of pythons in South Florida has led to lawmakers considering the banning of certain snake species as pets. This is extremely unfair to the large community of snake owners and breeders who actively care for these animals and even make a living off of them. They get a very bad reputation from the few people who were unable to care for those snakes. The same thing is happening with the pitbull breed right now, they are getting bad press because of owners that have not treated them correctly.
There are other solutions to the python problem that doesn’t involve killing so many of them. Instead they could be captured and relocated to specially made sanctuaries to house them just as certain groups have been doing with problem alligators. There are a lot of possibilities that haven’t been looked into yet and I hope that we can come to a much less violent solution in the future.