Commentary: Pythons, constrictors and anacondas -- Oh my!

The Miami HeraldOctober 15, 2009 

According to the Old Testament, the serpent was "more subtle than any beast of the field." Apparently, the writer of Genesis never met up with an African rock python, a species that can grow to a length of 20 feet or more and devour almost any living thing it encounters. Nothing subtle about this charmer.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that five giant, nonnative species pose a "high risk" threat to the ecosystem, particularly here in South Florida, where they've found a home in the warm confines of the Everglades.

These include the Burmese pythons, northern and southern African pythons, boa constrictors and yellow anacondas. Four others -- the reticulated python, Deschauensee's anaconda, green anaconda and Beni anaconda -- are considered only medium risk.

Dr. Robert Reed, a biologist with the Geological Service, said the reptiles pose a "minuscule" threat to people. We wouldn't want to submit that assessment to a personal field test. However, they could eventually wipe out entire wildlife populations because Florida's native animals aren't used to living near these big predators and aren't likely to have time to adapt.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Miami Herald.

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