Friday, October 07, 2005

Great News for Florida

I love the idea of pythons breeding in the Florida Keys and trying to eat alligators. If you've ever spent any time with a python, you know they're lovely companions, and the thought of large numbers of huge pythons in your back yard is nothing short of fantastic.

I once lived in a house with four large Burmese pythons, from 8 to more than 11 feet long, and they were loose almost all of the time, although we had a snake room we put them in when they were getting close to taking a dump (you feed a big constrictor infrequently and it's not difficult to predict when it will poop). After a few times finding a nasty snake doodoo on the carpet, you tend to try to keep that from happening as much as possible. My friend Randy in San Antonio used to keep an eye on his snakes when poop time was drawing near, looking for the characteristic cocking of the tail that indicated an imminent dump, and pick the snake up and milk the doody out over the toilet. I'm not sure that constitutes toilet training, but it's a lot less messy than the alternative.

But enough about poop: what I'm trying to say is that pythons are awesome pets and even better wild animals to have around your house. Our largest snake, Bambi, slept in one of our beds every night, and we all loved it. When my then-girlfriend first saw all 11 feet of Bambi, she first froze and then started shaking like a cartoon character. Within a month she would say things like "I'm going to take a nap. Where's Bambi?" and carry her off to bed so she could coil around her and sap some of the heat out of her. Bambi was the sweetest pet I could imagine, very sociable and invariably friendly. She figured out how to open doors by curling around the doorknob and got out one day when someone left a door unlocked, and after stopping traffic for a while was taken away to the San Antonio Zoo by Animal Control. She may outlive me for all I know.

All I'm saying is pythons are not dangerous to humans if you keep your eyes open and, if you come upon one, you move slowly away from them. Housepets may be another story, but in my opinion that's all worth it if you can walk out of your front door and run into a big python in a tree, or sunning itself on your lawn, or best of all, swimming in a lake or river. Watching a large python swim is absolutely fantastic.

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