Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Snakes in the Everglades: More than you might want to know.

 Lost in the River of Grass is based entirely on the true story of an ill-fated day-trip of my husband's into the Everglades. In the mid 1960's he took his then girlfriend for a ride in his airboat, which he  inexplicably (unless you know my husband) washed first. He removed the stern plug so the soapy water would run out, and put the plug in his jacket pocket. That's the last thought he gave to that plug until well after he and his girlfriend had been at one of the hunting camps in the 'glades for some time. By then it was too late. The airboat was right where they'd left it but only the propeller cage showed above the surface of the water.

But that's not what this is about. For Doug and his girlfriend the 3-day walk out of the Everglades was perilous enough, but things have changed. People have been releasing their over-grown pet pythons into the Everglades and now their numbers have reached almost inestimable numbers. Just last week the Miami Herald  ran a story about a 15.2 foot python eating a 76 pound deer. 

Oscar Owre, the most wonderful mentor I've ever had, taught ornithology at the University of Miami. He took a bunch of us on a hike into the Everglades that I'll never forget. (If you read my book, you won't either. So much of what I included was from that experience.) So knowing that there could be thousands upon thousands of pythons out there killing native species really breaks my heart.

Since my version of Doug's story takes place in the modern day, I included a fictionalized scene of a python eating an alligator. But it's only fiction because my characters are. It's happens all the time. And of course, the danger is not just for the native species that are now part of the python's diet. The Miami Herald article reminds parents to keep children away from "grassy thickets and water." I grew up in Florida. I lived in the water. What a tragedy this is.
  
Albino Burmese python
At my reading at Books and Books in Coral Gables, a young man from the Miami Museum of Science brought an albino Burmese python. It was beautiful as you can see. I'm a huge fan of snakes. There's no ick-factor for me. In fact one of my going away presents when I move from Miami to northern California was an Albion red rat snake. Her name was Rosie, and she grew to be 5 feet long and lived 9 years. I used her in educational programs that I did in the local schools. She was never a danger to anyone or anything.

Rosie look-alike




Here are a couple videos you might enjoy, or NOT.

This link is a video of an alligator and python.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfYAj1k9uZM&NR=1


This video is a excellent, but may be a little graphic if you aren't into snakes AT ALL.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy67XU6xEi8

I hope this isn't a before shot


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