MIAMI -- A South Florida family got a big surprise on Christmas Day, but it wasn’t delivered by a man in a big red suit.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Venom Unit was called in to capture a 13-foot Burmese Python that made its way into a backyard pool at Southwest 97th Avenue and 183rd Street on Sunday, according to TV reports from WSVN and NBC Miami.
The incident occurred just as a proposal to ban the import and interstate sale of Burmese pythons and eight other large exotic snakes has stalled, swallowed up in White House bureaucracy for nearly a year, as reported by The Miami Herald this week.
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Burmese pythons are a problem in South Florida. In the Everglades, and its surrounding farm and wild lands, a population estimated in the thousands has eaten everything from alligators to endangered wood rats. Two months ago, in the latest gruesome find, South Florida Water Management District workers captured a 16-footer swollen with a 76-pound deer inside.
Florida wildlife managers have moved swiftly on the snake threat, last year effectively banning personal ownership of Burmese pythons and seven other constrictors as pets.
Snakes whose owners had obtained $100 annual licenses and implanted them with microchips before July 2010 were grandfathered in. Reptile breeders, dealers, researchers and exhibitors also can continue operating under a separate permit program, as long as they agree to strict storage and transport rules. But it’s proven far more difficult to secure sweeping nationwide curbs on the pet trade, which many scientists blame for first unleashing pythons into the Everglades.