“Exotic Snakes Wear Out Their Welcome at Va. Motel”

Fairfax City police said they found 17 exotic snakes, 12 of them venomous, inside Room 11 of the Hy-Way Motel near Fairfax Circle on Thursday night after the motel’s management alerted them to a foul odor. The snakes took up residence at the Hy-Way on Sunday and were not detected by the housekeeping staff because they were concealed in luggage, police said.

Two of the smaller snakes, possibly future meals for their larger brethren, passed away during their vacation at the Hy-Way, police said, creating the telltale odor that led to their sudden eviction yesterday.

Police said the reptiles might belong to an Arlington County man who proudly kept as many as 100 exotic snakes in his home until county authorities recently moved against him.

The snakes did not endear him to the neighbors, who occasionally came across the random Mexican lancehead rattlesnake rambling about the ‘hood. So in May, Arlington passed an ordinance banning venomous snakes and other poisonous reptiles.

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An animal control officer and two snake experts visited the Hy-Way yesterday to catalogue the snakes and oversee their removal to an exotic-animal zoo in central Virginia, police said. The breeds included African puff adders, cottonmouths, rhinoceros vipers, albino cottonmouths, speckled rattlesnakes and a black-headed python, police said.

That slithering sound you may have just heard was my skin actually crawling so much when I read the story that I believe it crawled off my body and is hiding under the couch. Hopefully it’s alone under there.

As climate change warms the nation, giant Burmese pythons could colonize one-third of the USA, from San Francisco across the Southwest, Texas and the South and up north along the Virginia coast, according to U.S. Geological Survey maps released Wednesday.

The pythons can be 20 feet long and 250 pounds. They are highly adaptable to new environments.

A past NaNoWriMo novel I’ve been editing and doing further research for is about the trade in exotic reptiles, so this isn’t exactly news to me. It was the alarming Disaster Movie of the Week tone of the article that made it a must-post.

And make no mistake, I find it highly alarming.

The New York Times just ran a short piece on the impact of non-native species on the Florida environment, and the $100 billion dollar a year impact of non-native species on the U.S. economy as a whole.

“A Movable Beast: Asian Pythons Thrive in Florida.”

Opening a packed freezer in a park laboratory, Mr. Snow sifted dated plastic bags containing fur, feathers, bones and other vestiges of recent python prey.

“We’ve found everything, from very small mammals — native cotton mice, native cotton rats, rabbits, squirrels, possums, raccoons, even a bobcat, most recently the hooves of a deer,” Mr. Snow said. “Wading birds and water birds, pied-billed grebes, coots, egrets, limpkins and at least one big alligator.”

The South Asian snakes, which can top 200 pounds and 20 feet, probably entered the park as discards or escapees from the bustling global trade in exotic pets. Year-old, footlong pythons are a popular $70 item at reptile fairs and on the Web but in a few years can reach room-spanning, cat-munching size, prompting some owners to abandon them by the roadside. That practice may not pose an ecological problem in Detroit, Mr. Snow said, but in a near-tropical Florida park, it is an unfolding nightmare.

[read the rest of the article]

On a tangent (here? never!) – I’m familiar with the list of non-native species of concern in Florida, but this is the first time I’ve noticed that the Nile Monitor is not only on the list, but has been breeding for ten years. I’m creeped out by monitors, you’d think I’d have noticed that before.

I love Nathan Fillion lots and lots, so it was making me sad that basically the chances of getting me to his new movie, slither, fell somewhere on the chart between slim and none. I love flying almost as much as I love snakes, so the idea of a movie about a planeful of snakes…and directed by the man who wrote Scooby Doo 2*? Well, that just wasn’t happening for me.

Out of the blue it dawned on me today: I thought the snake movie starred Samuel L. Jackson. So I hit google and, well, let’s just say, duh.

Slither isn’t about snakes on a plane. Snakes on a Plane is about snakes on a plane.

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*To be fair, although he wrote Scooby Doo and Scooby Doo 2, I think we should cut James Gunn some slack because he also wrote and directed Sgt. Kabukiman Public Service Announcement.

He also had a role in the project, as “Insane Masturbator.”

Seriously. Check the link. I’m not making that up. How great is that? I’d completely forgotten about Sgt. Kabukiman.

While I was at the Troma Films site I noticed that they’re having a contest where you can win a role as a zombie chicken in their new opus, Poultrygeist.  That’s a role I was born to play.  The movie appears to already by in post-production so they probably don’t need anymore cast members, but a potential-zombie-chicken-girl can dream, can’t she?

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.

July 16 is allegedly World Snake Day. I tracked this holiday back to HerpDigest but haven’t gotten any farther in my sleuthing. Not because anyone is hiding anything, just because I’m lazy.

broken links removed and other link corrected when I restored archives in 2011