Entries in Snakes (6)


Southern Iraqi City Invaded by Snakes, 60 Dead

iStockphoto(SAYID DKHEEL, Iraq) -- The residents of a southern Iraqi city have to worry about more than a war and deadly militants. The city of Sayid Dkheel is also facing an invasion of snakes, many of them venomous.

The snakes, which include cobras, have shown up with the rising temperatures in search of a cooler refuge. Since then, they've reportedly attacked scores of people, leaving 60 dead.

To make matters worse, according to residents, the central government in Baghdad has ignored their requests for medicine and proper equipment to treat the often fatal snake bites. Without medical supplies, bites that could have been treated prove fatal.

As a result, many people have fled their homes while they wait for assistance or until the snakes leave town.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Snake Population to Be Bombed with Poison Mice

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In Guam, pest control is a little more complicated than buying a better mousetrap. In fact it can require a few helicopters.

To combat the invasive population of brown tree snakes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services will air drop mice laced with the painkiller acetaminophen into the dense jungles on the island.

"We are taking this to a new phase," said Daniel Vice, assistant state director of U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services in Hawaii, Guam, and the Pacific Islands. "There really is no other place in the world with a snake problem like Guam."

There are an estimated 2 million brown tree snakes on Guam with around 20 to 30 snakes infesting every acre of the island. The snakes showed up on the island after World War II, arriving on U.S. military ships from other parts of the Pacific war theater including Indonesia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Australia.

The snakes have decimated Guam's native bird population, wiping out nearly all species. Growing between three to ten feet, the snakes have affected humans by causing power outages and occasionally biting residents.

Robert Reed, the project leader of brown snake research for the U.S. Geological Survey, says the snakes are "changing the face of Guam."

"If you walk through Guam forests, you end up completely covered in spider webs because without birds, [the population of ] spiders and their prey have exploded," said Reed.

To fight the invading species, the mice, to be dropped by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services, will be dosed with about 80 mg of the painkiller, which is also used in medications like Tylenol. In that amount the painkiller is fatal to snakes, but harmless to humans.

The mice will be attached to green streamers, which according to Reed look like something between "a couple of feet of crepe paper and toilet paper," that hooks into the treetops where the brown tree snakes like to eat.

While the snakes have long plagued the residents of Guam, wildlife officials are concerned that the snakes could make their way to Hawaii via boat or plane and cause similar devastation.

In 2010 a study from the National Wildlife Research Center found that the brown tree snakes could cause anywhere from $593 million to $2.14 billion in damage in Hawaii if they were able to reach the same population density as they have in Guam.

If the air drop successfully diminishes the brown tree snake population, Reed says some birds that have become extinct in the wild could be reintroduced to the Guam jungles.

"This gives us optimism. It's a very promising new tool that might allow us from just trying to contain the snakes to actually try to restore these ecosystem," said Reed. "We've got some hope, it's a refreshing thing to have."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Snakes Close Australian Day-Care Center

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DARWIN, Australia) -- Australian officials shut down a day-care center in the Northern Territory Thursday because of an infestation of at least 23 baby pythons and their much larger mother.

It all started Wednesday, when a single hatchling Australian carpet python was spotted at the Mitchell Street Childcare Center in Darwin. The following day, seven more little snakes were seen slithering around the community center, which cares for children 6 weeks to five years old.

Director Louise DeBomford called the city of Darwin and two contractors were sent to investigate the issue. They peeked inside the center’s walls and discovered something shocking.

“They found the nest and mum,” DeBomford said.

Their 10-foot-long mom, to be specific. The wall contained a total of 41 broken eggshells, suggesting there were still nearly 20 foot-long serpents unaccounted for.

“I thought there would have to be more than one because we had an inundation of snakes last year, about the same time,” DeBomford told Northern Territory News.

The non-venomous carpet python is relatively common in much of Australia and New Guinea. It can grow as large as 13 feet and, like all pythons, kills its prey by coiling around and suffocating or crushing it.

It is possible for a snake as large as the one found at Mitchell Street Childcare Center to harm a young child. In one example from 2009, a family’s 8-foot pet Burmese python escaped its cage and killed a 2-year-old girl as she lay in her bed.

Coincidentally, this is not the only snake surprise kids witnessed in Australia this week. Outside Townsville, Queensland, a 3-year-old boy and his mother were shocked Monday to find some eggs the boy had collected and placed in his closet weeks ago hatched into seven highly venomous Eastern brown snakes.

No one was hurt in either case.

In Darwin, the kids at the day care seemed downright entertained as officials removed the family of snakes, presumably to somewhere a little more suitable for everyone involved.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Busted for Trying to Board Plane With 27 Snakes

John Foxx/Thinkstock(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) -- A Brazilian man was arrested for trying to board a flight at Orlando International Airport while carrying 27 snakes that he'd wrapped in pantyhose and stashed away inside stereo speakers, authorities said.

Mateus Del Maso, Jr. checked the speakers as luggage, but they were inspected and the snakes hidden inside were discovered. The creatures never made it onto the aircraft.

Dal Maso purchased the serpents at the National Reptile Breeders Expo in Daytona Beach, Fla. He admitted he was going to carry the snakes - which he valued at about $10,000 - into Brazil and breed them for commercial purposes, a release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.

He did not have the proper authorization to take the reptiles - one ball python, seven boa constrictors, and 19 color morph corn snakes - into Brazil.

Dal Maso pleaded guilty on Aug. 23 to attempting to smuggle the snakes. He served two days in Orange County Jail and was fined $6,000. He was also sentenced to one year of supervised release, and must report to a probation officer within 72 hours of his arrival if he ever returns to the U.S.

The snakes were taken to an undisclosed care facility.

The arrest came about as a result of a multi-agency law enforcement operation that's been dubbed "Operation Snake Pit." The program seeks to prevent the illegal shipping of reptiles.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Snake Bites Nepalese Man, Man Bites Back

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It seems Mohamed Salmo Miya believes in the old phrase, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth."

The 55-year-old Nepalese man exacted revenge on a venomous snake that had bitten him by doing the same to the reptile, according to the news agency AFP.

He was farming on Tuesday when the cobra bit him.

"I was very angry after the snake bit into me.  Then I followed the snake, grabbed it and bit it to death," he told the Annapurna Post.

He further explained that he chose to bite the snake, as opposed to killing it by some other method, because he was "mad with anger and wanted to take revenge."

Miya received treatment at a local clinic.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Snakes Invade India Tax Office

ABC News(BASTI, India) -- Two farmers who say they were frustrated with corruption dumped bags of snakes in a tax office this week in northern India. There were dozens of snakes including at least four deadly cobras, according to the British newspaper The Guardian.

The farmers had requested tax records from the office in Basti for their land in Narharpur village. But they say officials withheld files for weeks while demanding bribes.

Fed up with the bribery demands, the two farmers emptied three bags in the tax office on Tuesday, but no one was bitten or injured.

According to The Guardian, police and forest officials captured the snakes. Police are searching for the two farmers, one of whom is known locally as a snake charmer.

Though the two farmers wanted to send an immediate, offline message to officials, one growing trend to stop corruption is to publicly shame local officials who demand bribes by naming them in online videos on sites like YouTube.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio