Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Welcome to the Snake Pit

By snake pit I mean the Florida everglades, a former refuge for a wide variety of small mammals now being overrun by introduced pythons.  Sightings of prey species such as possums and racoons are down by around 99%.

The Obama administration has responded by banning the importation of several species of python and anaconda, a measure promptly criticized by Republicans and other reptilians.  Republican lawmakers say they're trying to protect the constrictor breeding cottage industry.

Pythons have also been discovered swallowing whole swamp alligators up to six feet long.   If the Everglades top natural predator isn't safe, nothing is.  (If you follow the link you'll find a photo of a python that literally exploded after swallowing a mid-size alligator.)

If the pythons don't ruin the Everglades, water shortages in Florida, Georgia and Alabama might finish the job.   The states' groundwater drainage is causing seawater to flow into the freshwater Everglades, something bound to be worsened by sea level rise and storm surges. 

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