Dangerous snakes popping up in backyards

By Summer Knowles - email
Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

JUPITER, FL (WFLX) - It's been about two months since Florida issued a virtual open season on giant invasive Burmese pythons. These slithery, scary snakes are popping up in unexpected places like residential neighborhoods.

Recently, an eight and a half foot albino Burmese python was taken from its owner's home after it strangled a 2-year-old girl. And remember the six foot alligator stuffed inside the belly of a 12 and a half foot Burmese python?

Wildlife officials say this is happening because pet owners either let them free in the wild or allow them to escape their cages. "It's becoming more common for people to find big snakes in their yard. Everyone's first reaction to seeing a snake is to try to kill it, but it's actually much better to leave the snake alone -- even if it is a venomous snake," said David Hitzig, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary.

Hitzig says you should simply leave it alone and call for help, but are there ways to keep them away from your yard? "The very simple, honest answer is: There is nothing you can do to deter a snake. People say throw down moth balls or bleach, but usually all you do is give yourself a headache and not much to deter the snake.

The only advice he offer is simple: Be alert and proactive. "If you have lights that you keep on outside, they attract bugs which attract frogs and lizards and even mice, and that in itself becomes an attractant to snakes."

And don't try to kill the snake. "For people to think 'because I killed this snake, I've rid the world and my backyard of snakes'. Guess what? Everyday, there's a snake that visits your backyard, whether you see it or not."

A lot of these snakes popping up aren't native to our area. They are pets who have been let go. So one thing to keep in mind is the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission does offer amnesty days where owners can get rid of their snakes. No questions asked.