In the Gardens of the Gables, All That Slithers Should Not Be Scary
There are two things that reptiles cannot regulate: Their own body temperature and people’s perception of them. Granted, if I saw a nine-foot Burmese python in the bushes of my driveway, I would be as shocked as our Coral Gables neighbors off San Souci Drive were in mid-January.
You may have seen that monster on the evening news. Apparently, such sightings are common in Coconut Grove, where the invasive species has, well, invaded. Experts say it was in search of warmer real estate during the cold spells experienced earlier this year.
Less expected was the reaction by Gables residents, many of whom went on backyard hunts for lurking snakes, some literally taking machetes to even the most harmless garden varieties. Social media lit up with the fear that these were miniature pythons. After a slew of such comments, I posted that most snakes were good, and helped keep vermin under control, as well as insects, lizards, and frogs.
“The snakes we find in our yards and gardens generally pose little threat to us,” says Jeffrey Fobb, captain of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, who has worked with the Venom Response Unit since 2006. “We only have four species of venomous snakes that occur statewide, and while they are found in South Florida, the older cities and suburbs are not places where their populations have persisted.”
Try telling that to snake-fearing residents! The reaction to my post was one of pushback and disdain. One resident asked if I had children, because then I would be more concerned.
Fortunately, some understood. Ellen Berger on Greenway Drive, who had seen a few of these comments go by, said, “If you want to balance nature in your yard without harmful chemicals, you need prey and predators.” Too bad it had to be a snake that tempted Eve in the Old Testament. Go to livingalongsidewildlife.com for more info.