Thursday, April 16, 2009


I don't like serpents. They're right up there with rodents in my personal bestiary of horrors. Don't get to use "bestiary" much, do you? So I've had two encounters with snakes-on-the-page lately. First, I spent many Sundays in church as a child. These masses usually but not always contained readings from the Hebrew Bible. But the Catholic lectionary is pretty limited; it tends to be the same passages read over and over again. The Episcopal Church has a much wider selection, so I;m often running up again Hebrew Bible stories that I don't know. So a couple of weeks ago, I'm listening to this reading from Numbers (21:4-9, for the more Bible literate), and the Israelites are journeying to the land of milk and honey, and some of them are complaining that they're thirsty because there's no water. And what does God do? He send "poisonous serpents" that bite people so they die. What? I don't remember any serpents after Joseph turns the Pharoah's staff into one. This really blew my mind.
So this week I'm reading the New Yorker and there's an article by Burkhard Bilger ("The Natural World: Swamp Things," link above) about exotic animals in Florida that have escaped from pet stores or homes, and are living in the wild there, many in the Everglades. The most troubling of these animals (to me) are the Burmese pythons. There are a lot of them already, and they're breeding. At one point he mentions that there are so many that if you account for a hundred years of global warming, the pythons could be living in New York City by 2100. This is so freaked me out I had insomnia.

1 comment:

SapphireTigress said...

The Burmese are very hard to keep in captivity. In fact, the only proper environment for these behemoths IS the Everglades. Irresponsible pet ownership is not native to Florida, and if Burmese pythons aren't plaguing California (whose population is more than Florida and they tend to go with more exotic animals), then they're not going anywhere else besides Florida. Don't worry about them stopping traffic in NYC. If they were to escape a home in winter anywhere, because their environment needs to be like the Everglades or their native tropical climates of Burma (Thailand), they would die halfway across their first snowdrift. I don't raise Burmese (I refuse to have anything in the house that might eat my bunny), but associates all over the country make sure their snakes are on back-up generators and alternative heat sources during winter because they are so touchy to environmental changes.

I agree, it's a shame, but the alarmists are making people nervous on a bigger scale than needs be. Burmese are only in the Everglades because it's the only compatible climate for them here in the US.