A pet Burmese python broke out of a glass cage last week and strangled to death a two-year-old girl in her bedroom in the US state of Florida.
The tragedy was the latest and most graphic example of a problem that has plagued the state for more than a decade: a non-native species that is wreaking havoc in the Everglades, threatening the environment, native wildlife and people.
“It’s just a matter of time before one of these snakes gets to a visitor in the Florida Everglades,” said Democrat Senator Bill Nelson, from Florida.
Lawmakers are mulling over a variety of measures to address the problem. Democrat Senator Carl Levin supports a ban on imports of Asian carp, but said the aquatic species plaguing his state of Michigan are no match — in size anyway — for the Burmese python, which can grow to 5.5m and has been known to eat alligators and even deer.
“I’m glad this damn python is a long way from where I live,” Levin said, eyeing large photos that showed the python in all its menace. The photos were displayed at a hearing conducted by two Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittees.
Burmese pythons are native to southeast Asia, but they survive easily in Florida’s warm, moist climate.
Some owners have freed the fast-growing pythons into the wild and a population of them has taken hold in the Everglades. Scientists also speculate that a bevy of Burmese pythons escaped in 1992 from pet shops battered by Hurricane Andrew and have been reproducing ever since.(AFP)