Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Giant Snakes in Texas?

This past summer several large Burmese Pythons were captured in South Florida. It is a well-established fact that many owners of these exotic serpents have turned them loose in the Everglades and other areas of Florida once the snakes became too large and too dangerous to handle. Many snakes have been captured over the last decade but all were identified as former pets that had been released into the wild by irresponsible owners. What caught my eye on this news story is that the 17 ft. 206 lb. python captured this past summer was wild. This confirms that these pythons have become acclimated to the swamps of Florida and have begun to breed successfully. A large population of Burmese Pythons in Florida could wreak havoc on the delicate Everglades ecosystem. You can access the news story here.



The article got me thinking about the similarities between the Everglades of South Florida and swamps and bayous of Southeast Texas. A little research reveals how similar these two areas of the country really are. For the sake of this article I compared Okeechobee, Florida, where the wild python was captured this past summer, and Beaumont, Texas, which lies just outside the borders of the legendary Big Thicket.

Beaumont lies at a mere 16 ft. above sea level. Okeechobee sits at a towering, by comparison anyway, 29 ft. above sea level. These two areas are also very close in latitude. Beaumont comes in at a latitude of 30.08 degrees North while Okeechobee sits at 27.74 degrees North latitude. This is a difference of a mere 2.34 degrees. Based on these facts, a reasonable assumption would be that the two areas would have similar climates. A little more digging reveals that to be the case. The following two graphs show the average temperatures of Okeechobee (top) and Beaumont (bottom).






Rainfall patterns proved to be similar as well. See the charts below showing annual precipitation in Okeechobee (top) and Beaumont (bottom).







The similarities between the two areas lead me to think that exotic snakes, like the Burmese Pythons being seen in Florida, would do just fine here in the Lone Star State. This could be an ecological disaster for indigenous species of our state. Everything from birds, to mammals (large and small), to alligators would be on the menu for these giant constrictors. I fear it is only a matter of time before reports of giant snakes begin to come in from Southeast Texas. It may become an even larger problem, however. The USGS recently published a graphic (below) showing just how much of the continental United States would be considered suitable habitat for pythons. The graphic is sobering.



I would ask any readers who sight what they believe to be one of these snakes or who come across any news articles documenting their presence in Southeast Texas / Southwest Louisiana to alert me. I hope I'm wrong but it is my opinion that we will begin having to deal with the problem of giant snakes in Texas sooner rather than later.

ADDENDUM - Ok, I had not seen the recent article from Texas Fish & Game about giant snakes in Texas when I wrote the above article. However, the article confirms my suspicions as it mentions a 13 ft. long Burmese Python captured in a ditch in Port Arthur, Texas. Give the article a look here.

5 comments:

  1. The Everglades can captivate anyone who goes there so if you somebody is planing to have a splendid day with the family surrounded by diversity of animals well this is the perfect place.

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  2. There may be a reticulated python loose in the Sugar Land, TX area. A few years ago a coworker of my husband's told him a large snake had been blocking the road into his neighborhood. The entrance is on a bridge that goes over Oyster Creek. The snake was all the way across the road with the head down in the water on one side of the bridge and the tail still in the water on the other side. He said it had a brownish, yellowish kind of diamond like pattern. The only snake I know of with that coloring and that grows that large is the retic. He said the cars had to wait for it to finish crossing the bridge, as it was really to big to just run over. He also said dogs had been missing out of back yards in that neighborhood for a while. Lots of the yards back up to Oyster Creek and are not fenced. I have been wondering about that ever since I heard about it.

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  3. Not to long ago I came across an Asian python in Corpus Christi, Texas under a bridge (Oso Creek). It was about 9' long, I was surprised when I ran across it, I reported it to the Texas Parks and Wildlife and the US Fish and Wildlife. At the time neither seemed at all a bit interested and then about three days later I received a call from the USFW asking about it. They said they were going to try and catch it. I guess they didn't believe me until they ran across the email with the pictures.

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  4. There have been several eyewitness reports over the years of a python like snake in the area of Highlands, TX by White's Lake.

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  5. I have lived in HIGHLANDS TEXAS all my life-- and can personally tell you- YES- there are pythons here. I have seen them and personally killed one 12 foot long in one of my large bass lakes.----there was a even larger one in another bass lake on the property.-----and YES I do have a witness to the killing of the 12 foot snake.----the snakes had eaten almost everything in the lakes,--ducks-beaver-small gators.---- only the very large gators were left.-----there was a guy that walked the trails along the lakes for exercise. (heart problems) one day he came out of the property all pale and excited--- he said he had almost stepped on a big snake at least 10 foot long. what he described was a python.-- he NEVER walked there again.----this happened AFTER I shoot the 12 foot snake. ----when on the property I never got out of the truck without a shotgun or machete--- and never walked in the thick weeds-- always watched where I was walking.----the property is on the banks of the SAN JACINTO river --- just upstream from WHITES LAKE---it is surrounded by many acres of thick woods, and marsh.--- a large marsh/game refuge is next to the property.--- the refuge has lots of hogs,deer and other food for large snakes.----the SAN JACINTO RIVER is also the south end of the HOUSTON ship channel----HOUSTON the 4th largest city , surely has people that turn pet snakes loose when they get too big.----they get in the ship channel and swim downstream to LYNCHBURG CROSSING ---there they can settle in the marshes or turn north and swim up the river to HIGHLANDS.--it is GOOD to have a witness to big snakes-- the people here have NO CLUE as to what is in the woods and marshes around them.---- the lakes have been sold now.--- and now there is a backwoods swimming hole/water park in the lake that had the even larger snake in it.--- you WILL NOT find ME swimming there.--- the property is between highlands shores road and grace lane in highlands texas, look it up on google earth. and see what a good home it is for large snakes. if you want more info reply

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