Monday, July 20, 2009

Hunting Prometheus

The Florida Everglades have been invaded.  The invaders:  an estimated 100,000 Burmese pythons native to the rainforests of Southeast Asia.  With no natural predators to speak of in Florida, these pythons consume rats, deer, and other native species.  In a rare case, an escaped pet python strangled a 2-year old girl in Central Florida.

But how did the invasion occur?  Enter, the pet owner.  Burmese pythons are not your average snake.  These massive creatures reach sizes exceeding 26-feet long and 200 lbs.  Pet owners purchase Burmese pythons without full knowledge of the care necessary, then later release the snakes into the wild because they can no longer manage the size and care of the snake.  Also, some Burmese pythons managed escape from pet stores after Hurricane Andrew ravaged the area in 1992. 

In my new middle grade fiction novel, Mice Don't Taste Like Chicken, Drew's teacher, Mr. Cross, owns a 13-foot Burmese python named Prometheus.  I experienced Prometheus firsthand as a sixth-grader in my own classroom.  He's the real deal--13 feet of solid snake muscle.  But my teacher purchased him knowing full well the care Prometheus required. Prometheus never injured a soul aside from the rats fed to him.

Florida officials began a hunt last week to eradicate Burmese pythons like Prometheus from the area to protect their native species.  Captured snakes will be euthanized on the spot and not returned to the pet trade.

for footage of a capture.

My question:  Is this fair?  Do you believe officials are justified in removing Burmese pythons from the Everglades?  Share your thoughts here.

"Live, Learn, Teach"

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