Florida officials consider suggesting Burmese snakes taking over Everglades be eaten

SUNRISE, FLORIDA - JANUARY 10: A python is seen as Robert Edman, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, gives a python-catching demonstration to potential snake hunters at the start of the Python Bowl 2020 on January 10, 2020 in

Only in Florida.

A species of snake has become so invasive that officials in Florida are considering issuing an advisory on how to eat them, despite the fact they're loaded with mercury. 

The Burmese python, which can often reach lengths approaching 20 feet, is overrunning the Florida Everglades, forcing officials to think outside the box, USA Today reports.

The news outlet reported that Eric Sutton, director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, is conducting mercury tests on the meat of the python to determine how it could be safely consumed. The Environmental Protection Agency has guidelines on how to prepare and eat fish that are thought to be high in mercury.

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In addition to eating the snakes, the state is hiring more hunters, investing in technology to better identify the snakes and training python-sniffing dogs.

A study performed nearly 10 years ago found that Everglades National Park pythons carried up to 3.5 parts per million of mercury, nearly eight times the 0.46 parts per million recommendation set forth by the EPA.

“We were not used to seeing numbers like that,” U.S. Geological Survey research scientist David Krabbenhoft told the Palm Beach Post. “These guys are just loaded with mercury.”

Krabbenhoft added it's possible the high level of mercury in the scintillating snakes could be a result of their inability to process it. 

If prepared correctly, however, the unrelenting reptiles may be used in recipes that generally call for chicken or pork, water management district python hunter Donna Kalil told the Post.

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“With a stir-fry you can add fresh ginger, garlic and vegetables of your choice and serve it over rice,” Kalil told the news outlet. “Generally, when I pressure-cook it for that, I’ll add some applesauce, spice and hot pepper, which gives it a nice flavor.”

In October, a pair of hunters captured an 18-foot, 9-inch Burmese python that set a record.

In August, Florida wildlife officials announced that 5,000 Burmese pythons had been removed since elimination programs were set up three years ago.

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