Central American Milksnake Found in Florida - FaunaClassifieds
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Herps In The News Local or national articles where reptiles or amphibians have made it into the news media. Please cite sources.

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Old 02-28-2021, 01:53 AM   #1
Arachno
Central American Milksnake Found in Florida

Quote:
Visitors hiking the Mahogany Hammock Trail in Everglades National Park earlier this month spotted an unfamiliar snake. It turned out to be a brand new invasive species.

The hikers alerted park staff of the sighting. Park staff and biologists from the United States Geological Survey’s Fort Collins Science Center captured the snake, which was identified as a non-native Central American milk snake. It appears to be a solo snake, good news for a park and Everglades ecosystem overrun by exotic invasive reptiles.

“This individual is thought to be a released pet because of its docile behavior and unusual coloration,” USGS said in a statement, adding this species has never been documented in the Everglades before. The only other documented sighting in the wild in the United States was in California.

The milk snake, in its native habitat, has similar bands of red, yellow and black as native coral snakes, which are highly venomous, but in a different pattern. USGS photos of the one caught in the Glades show duller colors.

The discovery came just weeks before Florida wildlife managers on Thursday approved new rules that ban the breeding and sale of tegu, green iguana and a list of other exotic snakes and lizards because reptiles that have escaped or been released have become a massive problem for the state — especially native wildlife.

Early detection can help scientists and government agencies prevent the establishment of populations, such as the case of Burmese pythons. The public can help scientists and wildlife managers track invasive species by taking photos and reporting any sightings of unusual animals to local authorities or to the Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System or by reporting sightings using the IveGot1 app.
https://news.yahoo.com/exotic-invasi...200400827.html
 
Old 02-28-2021, 08:32 AM   #2
Socratic Monologue
Here's the photo in the article (other outlets note that USGS took the pic).

That looks like a hybrid, IMO. I don't know abnorma well (and given how uncommon they are in captivity, it would be odd that that would be the first feral milksnake found in FL), but that brown banding is unusual.

Pretty lame (and just ignorant) that the article calls the snake "invasive". One loose pet is 'feral', a bunch are 'introduced' or 'non-native', and only after the species has become detrimental to the local flora and fauna is it 'invasive'.

Also lame is the assumption that it was "released" rather than "escaped".

The article is all over the web now, but when a person can track down the original release it is cathartic to unload on the original author.
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Old 02-28-2021, 01:47 PM   #3
marker1
Yeah they tried to say Brown cat snakes were "released" at first as well I was in this game before they were ever prohibited Brown cat snakes were never released pets. The only people who BARELY brought brown cat snakes back almost 20 years ago were the few boiga enthusiast that there were absolutely no first time or irresponsible reptile keeper. They were a ugly brown snake that would also bite the shit out of you that would sit in a corner of a reptile shop for ages. Nobody was buying them on a whim then letting them go.......You couldn't get anyone to buy them lol. Customs werent sweeping plant imports well enough (wonder why) and they were being introduced through that then keepers got the blame at first by fwc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Socratic Monologue View Post
Here's the photo in the article (other outlets note that USGS took the pic).

That looks like a hybrid, IMO. I don't know abnorma well (and given how uncommon they are in captivity, it would be odd that that would be the first feral milksnake found in FL), but that brown banding is unusual.

Pretty lame (and just ignorant) that the article calls the snake "invasive". One loose pet is 'feral', a bunch are 'introduced' or 'non-native', and only after the species has become detrimental to the local flora and fauna is it 'invasive'.

Also lame is the assumption that it was "released" rather than "escaped".

The article is all over the web now, but when a person can track down the original release it is cathartic to unload on the original author.
 
Old 02-28-2021, 07:14 PM   #4
WebSlave
Quote:
Originally Posted by Socratic Monologue View Post
Here's the photo in the article (other outlets note that USGS took the pic).

That looks like a hybrid, IMO. I don't know abnorma well (and given how uncommon they are in captivity, it would be odd that that would be the first feral milksnake found in FL), but that brown banding is unusual.

Pretty lame (and just ignorant) that the article calls the snake "invasive". One loose pet is 'feral', a bunch are 'introduced' or 'non-native', and only after the species has become detrimental to the local flora and fauna is it 'invasive'.

Also lame is the assumption that it was "released" rather than "escaped".

The article is all over the web now, but when a person can track down the original release it is cathartic to unload on the original author.
With that unusual coloration, I would think that milk snake enthusiasts would be all over it trying to get it for their breeding trials. Which pretty much would rule out an intentional release. And what are the odds that an unusual color variant like that would have made it's way to the Everglades, much less be a beach head soldier for an invasion?

For that matter if it was an escapee, I would think someone would recognize that snake as coming from whoever might be working with that line. Honestly, I have never seen a central american milk snake with that coloration. I have seen a fair share of eastern milks being brown, but have never seen any such coloration in any members of the neotropical lines that I can recall. Closest I can think of would be a variation of an anerythristic Honduran or derivative.

At least not in my limited experience with milksnakes, anyway. I have had a few species over the years and studied the variants a bit, but that is about it.
 
Old 02-28-2021, 07:44 PM   #5
Socratic Monologue
I forgot that L.t. hondurensis is now in L. abnorma. This makes more sense to me now.

Here is a pic of an anery honduran that has that same brown tone.

I had never seen an anery that looks quite like that. Still could be a hybrid.
 
Old 02-28-2021, 07:47 PM   #6
Helenthereef
Accepting that the colouration suggests this particular snake was a pet, I think more sightings of non-native species may be coming due to natural movement as the climate continues to change. Already birds are being found outside of their natural ranges, so I wouldn't find it too odd that something that occurs naturally in Central America moves up to Northern America. It's not like they know where the national borders are...
 
Old 02-28-2021, 10:26 PM   #7
toddnbecka
Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if some PETA activist released the snake to further their agenda, particularly since Florida is such fertile ground now.
 
Old 02-28-2021, 10:57 PM   #8
WebSlave
Quote:
Originally Posted by Helenthereef View Post
Accepting that the colouration suggests this particular snake was a pet, I think more sightings of non-native species may be coming due to natural movement as the climate continues to change. Already birds are being found outside of their natural ranges, so I wouldn't find it too odd that something that occurs naturally in Central America moves up to Northern America. It's not like they know where the national borders are...
Well, the problem would be that for a Central American snake species to be found in the Florida Everglades because of a migration event, it would have to come across the Gulf of Mexico in some manner, or else come up through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, then cross the entire state of Florida without being noticed by anyone. Highly unlikely for that to happen with a large neotropical milksnake, I would think. Those milks can get quite large and it is not like someone wouldn't notice them in their back yard.

Perhaps hitched a ride on a boat across the Gulf? Possible, I guess. But still, in no way could such an event be considered as an "invasion".
 
Old 03-01-2021, 12:26 AM   #9
Helenthereef
Quote:
Originally Posted by WebSlave View Post
But still, in no way could such an event be considered as an "invasion".
 
Old 03-01-2021, 12:59 AM   #10
WebSlave
Quote:
Originally Posted by Socratic Monologue View Post
I forgot that L.t. hondurensis is now in L. abnorma. This makes more sense to me now.

Here is a pic of an anery honduran that has that same brown tone.

I had never seen an anery that looks quite like that. Still could be a hybrid.
Possibly interesting story about the various neotropical triangulums. Way back when, I got VERY interested in them, and tracked down every publication I could find about them. This was in the pre-internet days, of course. The more I read about the methods used to identify the subspecific strains being labelled, the more outlandish the arbitrary divisions seemed to me. So I started calling people who worked with them and asked questions about how someone would KNOW what it is they have in their hands with no other information available. The most common response was that locality was the only reliable key. Collect them yourself, or obtain specimens from trusted collectors in the localities where something you are interested comes from, or else it is just an unknown identification.

Yeah, that sounds like pretty good advice, doesn't it? Except I had importers tell me (not mentioning any names) that all of the triangulums coming from Central America would come from central shipping points, that might change several times even in a year, based on which country at the time had the easiest exporting laws and fees to have to negotiate with. So EVERY snake collected for export, including the triangulums, were collected all over from Mexico down to northern South America and transported to the exporting country of the moment all bundled together with everything else collected everywhere else with NO locality data at all noted nor preserved for individual specimens. Once the shipments landed on US soil and the importers picked through them, THEY would decide what to label and sell as each specimen based on nothing more than what it might look like to them. So it was all just a grab bag. And the animals sold that way were every bit as accurate as just putting name tags on a wall and throwing darts at them. IMHO.

Some of you might even remember when the amelanistic line of the milk snakes hit the market. At first they were called "Amelanistic Central American Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis t. polyzona), which nearly overnight suddenly started being called "Amelanistic Honduran Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis t. hondurensis). Which, in my opinion, was nothing more than a marketing strategy. Hondurensis was an easier sell than polyzona, I guess.

So who knows what is what with these animals?

It was all this BS (IMHO), combined with my project working with Costa Rican Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis t. stuarti) which never would breed for me, and the Amelanistic Honduran/Central American Milk Snake project that ended when the female died the year she was big enough to produce, that I decided to just get out of the milk snakes completely.

I did really like my hondurensis, truth be known. Big impressive animals. I recall once having a baby that was reluctant to come out of it's shell after pipping. So I put the egg in a container and then threw in a pinky mouse, and that snake THEN decided it wanted to come out when it grabbed the pinky and wolfed it down. They certainly were not shy about feeding!

Oh yeah, one year while at one of the reptile shows in Tampa, FL, I made a deal with a guy to sell him any of the gray banded king snakes at the end of the show that I didn't sell at retail. Well, I didn't sell any of them. Truth be known, the Tampa show was always a very poor show for us, so that was no surprise. So at the end of the show, I gave the guy a good price for the entire lot. After the money had changed hands and while bagging them up we got to talking, and he told me these were like money in the bank for him. Every year he would accumulate as many young gray bands that he could, and drive out to SW Texas and meet up with gray band collectors who swarmed to the area. There he would sell the hell out of his "fresh wild caught" baby gray banded kings to collectors that weren't having any luck and didn't want to go home empty handed, with locality info and all.

Maybe rumors and BS, and maybe not.

Didn't really matter much to me, since I wasn't interested in locality specific gray bands myself. And who am I to tell someone how to run their own lives? Actually, truth be known, I am not a big supporter of the concept of "localities" anyway when it comes to identifying anything living that can freely move in and out of any area that doesn't have physical barriers around it.

FWIW...
 

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