Gator-Eating Pythons: A Myth?
Trekking in the Everglades became sketchier once monster, gator-eating pythons began making guest appearances. Over the weekend, a bald-headed vat of reptilian knowledge offered some good news.
Remember that widely circulated photo of the 13-foot Burmese python that split after gulping the gator? Rick Scholle, exotic animal handler at Trail Lakes Campground, a.k.a. Skunk Ape Research Headquarters, thinks the shot was likely fiction, the art of a savvy Photoshopper. Reptile to reptile eating frenzies are rare. He pointed out that the photo came out during an effort to toughen rules about exotic pet ownership. What’s more, he doesn't believe pythons are breeding in the Everglades, because their eggs wouldn't likely escape fire ants.
(The only reports he hears about smaller, younger pythons are from government folks, who among Everglades natives are not usually sources to be trusted.) He believes the only pythons slithering through the River of Grass are mature pets let loose by people who "are basically thoughtless idiots." During these chillier winter months, many are smashed on the road trying to warm up on the pavement in their non-native habitat.
Python fears semi-assuaged, my guy and I headed out for an eight-mile hike off Loop Road into swamps with knee-high waters. Thankfully, all we spotted was this little cottonmouth. --Janine Zeitlin