Since 1990, over 100,000 Burmese pythons have been imported into the U.S. by exotic pet fanatics. The snakes, which are native to Southeast Asia, are manageable as babies, but once they start growing–sometimes reaching as long as 16 feet and living as long as 30 years–owners often find that they can’t handle the pets.
This means that there are now as many as 150,000 Burmese pythons living in the Everglades, where they have no natural predators. (Yet another reason not to move to Florida.)
Although it’s too late to save the life of a Florida two-year-old, wildlife experts are hoping to raise awareness about the problem of importing non-native pets into the U.S. If this story won’t open people’s eyes, I don’t know what will.
A two-year-old was strangled last night by an eight-foot Burmese python that escaped from its aquarium. The snake’s owner–the boyfriend of the child’s mother–woke up to see the snake’s cage empty. He ran to the child’s room, where he stabbed the snake until it slithered under a dresser. But two-year-old Shaunia Hare was already dead.
The boyfriend immediately called 911, sobbing so hard that dispatchers could barely understand him. As misguided as his behavior may seem in retrospect, it seems that he truly never considered his snake would harm someone–which is precisely why Florida and other states need to stop selling licenses for dangerous, non-native pets. This last year, Florida sold 450 such licenses.
But Florida Senator Bill Nelson hopes to put an end to the practice; he has introduced legislation that would outlaw the importation and interstade trade of Burmese pythons. In the meantime, the killer snake has been removed by authorities and its owner will likely face neglect charges.