There are 45 indigenous species of snakes in Florida, although only 6 are venomous. We learned this last night when we were trying to name the 5 venomous species that exist in this area. We were thinking pygmy and timber rattlers were the same, that those were just regional nicknames for the same species (they aren’t). Plus, I kept trying to count cobras. I think they should count, since there’s no getting rid of them at this point. It was, I would like to add, a mistake to review the 41 species of snakes right before bedtime.

Last night as we recovered from our travels, we marvelled at the weird pockets of apathy in airline security, in light of thefact that the woman seated next to me on the plane pulled a swiss army knife from her pocket and cut up fruit for her son, David. The flight attendants seemed unconcerned. Husband suggested that perhaps the mother was a member of the Swiss Army, and therefore got to carry her knife. I don’t know why we’re giddy and jetlagged, we never left this timezone.

Nevertheless, I am pleased to report that David (my young neighbor on the plane) was remarkably well behaved and even offered me an oreo cookie.

Not a whole lot to report about the rest of the trip. All those sandhill crane mating dances we saw over the summer? They obviously work quite well. We saw lots of crane families strolling about the place, as each nesting apparently results in 2 eggs.

There are definitely at least 3 gators in the river by mom’s house. We know this because they’re most distinctly different sizes. We have names for them now: Lil’ Gator, Medium Gator, and Jesusmaryandjosephsomebodyclosethegaragedoorquick.

Here’s a nifty online guide to the snakes of Florida.

Randomly, here’s a great site I just found about endangered snakes and other such snakey info.

I hate snakes. Why did you let me look up those sites and look at all of those pictures?

Last night I saw the most bizarre and spectacular wildlife display ever.

I saw the mating of dance of a pair of sandhill cranes in mom’s backyard. They actually bow to each other before they start. They pogo straight up and down a good 4 feet into the air like they have spring-loaded feet. They make this noise and they swoop and they sway and they bow and then they do it again.

These things are huge (bigger than a great blue heron and much more beautiful and graceful) and they’re all over the place here. There are a few families, I see them early in the morning back by the cow pasture. Sandhill cranes are monogomous and mate for life, but there’s a lone widower male wandering about. We call him Bob Crane.

Now I understand why everyone thought it was so comical yet sad when Bob fell in love with my brother’s truck. He’d apparently dance for it in the driveway for hours.

How ’bout this?

From today’s Washington Post:

Freakish Fish Causes Fear in Md.: Carnivore Moves on Land, Can Survive 4 Days Without Water”

Any article about a renegade fish that contains the phrase, “Dreaded by fish biologists…” is pretty scary stuff if you ask me. Even fish biologists hate this fish. What does that tell you?

And how about this:

The fear is: This thing could hop from the pond, across the floodplain and into the river, and then all bets are off,” said Bob Lunsford, a biologist with the department. “It’s the baddest bunny in the bush. It has no known predators in this environment, can grow to 15 pounds, and it can get up and walk. What more do you need?”

I have some vague memory of these things being a problem in Florida and I wanted to know how fast they can move.

While researching this matter, I checked out the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Page They have pictures of the snakehead and an advisory, but first I have to point out the excellent headline that is right above the snakehead advisory:

“Another marine invader: cannibalistic alien jellyfish enter the Gulf.”

70 foot long tentacles, folks. I’ve heard of these too, but I just loved that headline so much I got derailed for a moment. That’s poetry. No, actually, it’s not. But it’s extremely ominous sounding, very 50s sci-fi movie-ish.

Here’s the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Press Release about the snakefish, in case you find you just can’t get enough snakefish in your day.

Cooler still, I just found that one of my best friends from high school is a biologist at DEP. Obviously, I was meant to become obsessed with snakefish today because it led me to her. How about that? I’ll ask her how fast the snakefish can move on land. Or maybe I’ll just say hi.

Burmese pythons have been quietly advancing their quest for world domination since at least the early 1980s. I slept better when I was a kid, before my father’s herpetologist friend shared this soon after they caught an escaped burmese python named Julius Squeezer in our neighborhood. I wish the archives of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune were online, I remember the article being screamingly funny to my brother and I. The herpetologist’s doom and gloom about us all being devoured by snakes? Less funny.

an earlier version of this post stated that Squeezer went to live out his days at Jungle Gardens, but I’m fairly certain that is incorrect.

Here’s a recent phone conversation with my mom:

Mom: How are you?
Me: Fine. You?
Mom: Fine.
Me: What did you do today?
Mom: Not much. Beat a snake to death with a shovel.
Me: Where was it?
Mom: In the living room.