Monday, April 05, 2010

Florida Cold Snap

Vladimir Beregovoy writes:

"My son came for spring break vacations. He told an interesting story about mass mortality among exotics in Florida. They had a prolonged period of unusually temperatures there as far to the south as Florida Key, about 40 Fahrenheit for a few weeks. As a result at least 90% of huge Southeast Asian pythons died. A lot of tropical illegally introduced fish species died. A lot of dead fish of different exotic to the area species were floating dead, stinking. Alligators and birds gorged, all you can eat available. This is an excellent ecological disaster phenomenon. Iguanas also became slow down, even dropped from trees, but the did not die, just lost their mobility for some time. One man gathered a lot of them in his car, thinking he was rescuing them. While he was driving, they all warmed up enough and revived!. He was surprised seeing all those huge reptiles moving all over his car and had to stop to unload them! Exotic birds did not die, but a lot of other introduced species seems either gone, or reduced in numbers by cold weather."

Maybe it will spare us some of those tiresome animal "reality" shows. But will it breed us up future "super pythons" on the principle that those that survive will be more cold- tolerant?

8 comments:

Neutrino Cannon said...

As you would know from wandering around Central Asia, and from living in the American Southwest, areas away from large bodies of water have perennially unpredictable weather. I wonder if increasingly common cold snaps in the Permian resulting from the formation of Pangaea drove the evolution of warm-bloodedness in synapsids.

Matt Mullenix said...

Lest we forget: The dreaded Wolly Python of the Pliestocene!

prairie mary said...

I enjoyed a YouTube video account of a little girl charmed by the stiff iguanas raining down on her play yard. She gathered them up in a plastic pail, put them down in the house, and rather forgot about them until suddenly there were herds of iguanas rushing around the front room, over the sofas and under the chairs. An open door and a broom soon resolved the commotion.

Prairie Mary

Neutrino Cannon said...

Matt, there used to be a fossil genus of really beeg snake from the Riversleigh deposits that bore the genus name montypythonoides. Alas, I recall it being declared a junior synonym of... something else, I don't recall what; so it is now nomen nudum.

Retrieverman said...

That's pretty much what has happened with nine-banded armadillos and Virginia opossums. They get scaled back every cold winter, but those that survive are a bit more cold tolerant and can move north.

Natural selection continues to work its magic, even with animals that really aren't natural. Like Florida iguanas and pythons.

Neutrino Cannon said...

This assuming that there's enough left to form a viable breeding population. Just how many of the big snakes were there to begin with?

Peculiar said...

Let me be the first to say, "Welcome, super pythons!" Woolly Pythons welcome too; perhaps that's what the famous snake-god of the upper Pecos was (see Death Comes for the Archbishop).

Neutrino, seems like I've often seen population estimates very well into five figures, if not six, so even with a 90% die-off, a breeding population's not out of the question. After all, they got to that point from pretty small numbers of escapees.

Neutrino Cannon said...

Oh wow. That's a lot of snakes.

Still, I wonder if some sort of concerted effort to knock them out could work, now that they're weakened. Some sort of bounty paid, perhaps? That seemed to work on thylacines.

Not likely to happen, as I understand it, Florida, like everyone else, is all but bankrupt right now.

I hear that iguanas are really tasty...