SOUTH GULF COVE — Why did the python cross the road in South Gulf Cove?
Social media was abuzz in South Gulf Cove over the weekend, with people sharing a photo showing a large python slithering across a street.
South Gulf Cove resident Mikki Guzowski was on her way Thursday to pick up her 12-year-old daughter Lexi at the school bus stop for L.A. Ainger Middle School students on LaBarge Circle.
Guzowski was on the phone with her daughter when she spotted an adult python slithering across the road.
She immediately hung up on her daughter.
Fortunately, Guzoski’s husband, Jim, picked up their daughter in a golf cart. They caught up with Guzowski, and when Lexi saw the python stretched out across the road, she appropriately let out a scream, her mother reported.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported it received a call Friday of the python roaming South Gulf Cove.
It was too late to capture it.
“The FWC immediately sent a biologist to the area to search for the animal, but the report was placed a day after the animal was seen and it could no longer be detected or found,” Officer Brian Norris told The Daily Sun on Monday.
“The FWC will continue to survey the area and encourages anyone who sees a python to take a picture, note the exact location, and report the sighting immediately to help biologists respond quickly,” Norris said.
Reports should be called in to the FWC’s Exotic Species Hotline at 888-483-4681, online at IveGot1.org, or through the IveGot1 smartphone application.
The Burmese python is a large nonvenomous constrictor that is an invasive species in Florida, according to the FWC’s website. Pythons are a menace that eat all kinds of native wildlife, including birds, small and large mammals — and even alligators.
The South Gulf Cove is not a first python spotted locally, not even a first for 2021.
It’s been well reported and documented how South Florida and the Everglades, and even the Florida Keys, have been inundated with a reproducing population of Burmese pythons.
Less frequently have pythons been spotted or captured as far north as Charlotte or Sarasota counties.
In March, a Rotonda resident, spotted the 9-foot, 9-inch Burmese python emerging out of an undeveloped lot onto the grassy roadside along Cougar Way, about a mile from L.A. Ainger Middle School.
Once captured, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officials determined the snake probably was a pet that was undernourished and probably let loose by an owner.
That same week, wildlife officials reported a captured python in Hardee County.
The Hardee python was a female, weighing more than 130 pounds. She was carrying underdeveloped eggs. Wiledlife officials couldn’t determine whether the snake laid more viable, fertilized eggs. The Hardee snake was also thought to have “escaped” captivity.
The state does have a program in place where pet owners can surrender their pythons and other exotic pets. State wildlife officials hold periodic one-day-only Exotic Pet Amnesty Days.
Also, pet owners can call the Exotic Species Hotline at 888-483-4681 for assistance year round. Most exotic pets, including ones held illegally, will be accepted without penalty.
As for pythons that have been spotted in the wild, the FWC has a statewide Python Action Team, whose members are paid to eradicate the reptiles, and encourages people to kill them.
“Pythons can be humanely killed on private lands at any time with landowner permission — no permit required — and the FWC encourages people to remove and kill pythons from private lands whenever possible,” the FWC website states. Humane means “other than traps or firearms (unless provided for by specific area regulations).”