Could Burmese Pythons Invade Victoria?
Many of us are afraid of snakes. The snakes already living in our area strike fear into the hearts of many Victoria residents. Imagine a 200-pound super snake stalking your backyard and threatening your small pets and children.
This nightmare scenario has been plaguing the Florida Everglades for 30 years. Burmese Pythons have overrun the Everglades in Florida. In 2009 a small child in Florida died when the family's pet Burmese python strangled her.
Ironically, the fear of these snakes invading Texas still has not prompted our lawmakers to pass a law that bans owning Burmese Pythons in the state as pets. To hold a Burmese Python in Texas, you only need a $20 Controlled Exotic Snakes Permit from Texas Parks and Wildlife.
The Federal Government has banned four species of dangerous snakes, including Burmese pythons, from being imported into the country or moved across state lines.
Scientists have been studying climates in the US where these troublesome invasive snakes could survive. Because of the warmth of our environment here in Victoria and elsewhere in South Texas, some experts are particularly concerned about pythons invading our ecosystem here in Texas.
According to A-Z animals, Burmese pythons thrive in warm climates characterized by humidity, high temperatures, and moderate precipitation. Check, check, and check for Victoria. Because the states between us and Florida, including Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, have the same weather conditions, pythons could migrate to East Texas.
That seems less likely to me than the prospect of a Burmese python owner deciding they no longer want to live with a 13-foot-long snake and releasing it into the wild. It would only take a few of these breeding snakes loose in the environment to breed a sustainable population.
Burmese pythons would ravage the Texas ecosystem leading to the extinction of many native endangered Texas species. The Texas kangaroo rat is one species. Burmese pythons also carry pentastomes which may pass to other native snakes in the state and even humans, leading to pentastomiasis, linguatula, andarmillifer infections.
And you thought Monkeypox was terrible?
Is it inevitable that these snakes will eventually make their home in Victoria and statewide? Not necessarily. In a study, scientists brought ten Burmese pythons to South Carolina to see if they could survive there. After implanting a radio transmitter and a temperature logger in each snake, the snakes were released in 2009.
The snakes survived cold December nights with temperatures below 40 Fahrenheit. However, a cold snap in January did in 9 out of the ten snakes.
It gets cold here in Victoria. We generally have 12-15 nights a year with temperatures below freezing. During the deep freeze in 2021, we had many nights much colder than that.
Still, most experts say there is a possibility that the snakes could gain a foothold here in the Victoria region of Texas, and the Rio Grande Valley might even be a more likely place where the snakes could get a foothold.
Snakes are not bad. Burmese pythons are not evil. They can make great pets for people who like snakes. Responsible pet owners are never the problem. Unfortunately, not every owner IS responsible. Therefore, it may be a good idea to ban the snakes from Texas.
Once they establish themselves here, it will be too late.