The pythons are coming! The pythons are coming!

By Debra LoGuercio

©Copyright 2008, Debra LoGuercio, all rights reserved

One more reason to Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid: The Pythons Are Coming! The Pythons Are Coming! It said so right there on the front page of the Feb. 21 San Francisco Chronicle. According to the story, Burmese pythons are slithering from Florida to the Bay Area at a rate of 20 miles per month. In fact, it says “one of them has already slithered about 100 miles toward San Francisco.”

Now, how they knew that python was headed to San Francisco, and not Houston or Las Vegas is anyone’s guess, unless the python was in drag. Me, I wouldn’t believe what the python had to say about his travel itinerary. I hear pythons are pathological liars.

The story notes that Burmese pythons are pretty monstrous. At 250 pounds, they can strangle and eat an alligator. Not only eat it, but swallow it in one gulp. Notes the story, the python is "highly adaptable to new environments and cannot be stopped.” Oh really. I’ll bet a shotgun would slow one down. But not to worry, we have plenty of time to lock and load. At 20 miles per month, it will take even a “determined” Burmese python 12 years to get to San Francisco. Unless it makes a right turn at Albuquerque, of course. Messed up Bugs Bunny every time.

While San Franciscans still have time to stock up on duct tape and plastic sheeting to protect themselves, our good friends Down Under aren’t so lucky. Just days after the Chronicle story appeared, the Associated Press posted this story: “Python Eats Australian Family Dog.” I was expecting to read that a python had slithered onto an emu ranch somewhere in the Outback and gulped down some poor, trusty little cattle dog, but no, this happened at someone’s home in Kuranda, Queensland.

The story says the 16 foot python was seen near the family’s home “for days.” Local wildlife expert Stuart Douglas commented that the python was stalking their little Chihuahua mix during that time, because family members saw it in the dog’s bed.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I found a 16-foot python in my dog’s bed just one time, let alone on several occasions, I’d have already had the shotgun at my side and maybe a flamethrower for backup. Particularly if I also had, in addition to the dog, a 5 and 7 year old child, as the story notes! If a python can take down an alligator, little Bobby and Susie would barely be appetizers.

So, what did the parents do after finding the python eyeing their home and its inhabitants? Nothing! In fact, they never even called Douglas to the scene until after the python was in the midst of swallowing the dog. And what did Mom do in the meantime, lest the python’s appetite not be satisfied with poor little Paco, and potentially come after the children next? Why, she threw some plastic chairs at it! Good grief. If you must throw something, throw a television or the barbecue or at least something that will leave a mark! You couldn’t hurt a flamingo with a plastic chair!

The chairs of course merely bounced off the 110 pound tube of solid muscle. The python never even burped. When Douglas arrived, all that was left of the poor dog were its hind legs and tail sticking out from the python’s mouth. Sadly, although the dog wasn’t completely swallowed, Douglas said it was pointless to remove it because pythons crush their prey to death before swallowing it. Besides, pulling the dog out might have injured the python. (Were it my dog, that would’ve been a bonus.)

Nothing to be done but take the python back to Douglas’ game preserve and let it digest the dog. After which time, he’s releasing it back into the wild. Watch out, Aussies! This snake’s Jonesin’ for some Chihuahua and he’s on the loose! And, for future reference, should a python appear in your back yard, call 911 (is it 119 down under?) immediately, and make sure you have more substantial weapons handy than plastic furniture. Like a chain saw. Or an AK-47.

So, pay attention, San Franciscans! Don’t end up like that family in Kuranda. Be prepared, or your Pugs and Peke-a-Poos will be next. Which doesn’t mean the rest of us Yolo and Solano county folks can relax. One wrong turn at Albuquerque and those pythons could come slithering right up Putah Creek on their way to Union Square.

OUT OF OFFICE COUNTDOWN: Only 47 weeks until the snakes slither out of the White House!