Snails and snakes and trees, oh killers!

Have you heard the one about the African snail? Stop me if you know it. What about the Burmese python? Or the Australian paperbark tree?

These foreign immigrants are no joke, and no legal process could get them under control. We call them invasives, because these exotic species have invaded and taken over territory that used to belong to the natives. Hmmm, this story is beginning to sound familiar…

Burmese python
Strange tourist in Everglades National Park (photo from nps.gov)

South Florida is “ground zero” for this Contagion (good movie), because of the temperate climate and because of people at the airport smuggling in exotic birds and snakes in their pants. Really. Speaking of Snakes on a Plane (didn’t see it), the Burmese pythons breeding in the Everglades will eventually make their way into Georgia and beyond, and inevitably, eat a baby. No, we won’t be able to blame it on a dingo, because that species has not invaded –not yet.

While USDA and other forces of government try to keep the invaders at bay, some scientists are saying that the forced migration of new species may not be so bad. After all, it happens naturally all the time, if slowly, and it may bring food sources (fried snake!) or other products (snakeskin belts) useful to humans. But these small benefits cannot compensate for a plague that we have brought on ourselves.

Nature may be naturally resilient, but we won’t be laughing when the snake is on us.

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