Lee Ann wasn’t allowed to get her ears pierced in fifth grade when the rest of us did. I didn’t care if she got them pierced or not, but I was upset for her, because she really wanted them pierced. She told us her dad wouldn’t let her. So, the next time we were at her house, I thought I would ask him.
“Why can’t Lee Ann get her ears pierced?” I was afraid of her dad. He sat in his chair a lot and rarely talked.
“If God wanted you to have holes in your ears, you would have been born with holes in your ears.” He looked at me like that was the best answer in the world. I thought it was stupid. I mean, really stupid.
“Well, then why is she wearing clothes?” I can play this game too.
“Go home, Vickie.”
I thought about this conversation when I saw a picture of a boa constrictor or python (a snake is a snake, maybe) slithering along a highway in Florida. Seems that people are letting their pet snakes loose in sunny, warm Florida, where they are multiplying and living the good life in the swamps. Well, except for the fact that they aren’t supposed to be there. Just like the holes in Lee Ann’s ears. Nice segway, eh? Well, then it got me thinking about some animals and plants that are where they aren’t supposed to be. I’ll start with the python.
1. Welcome to Sunny Florida, home of the python- The picture I saw on facebook made me shudder. I can’t imagine walking outside and seeing a very long snake hanging out in your yard. But, that’s what’s happening in Florida. And you can blame it all on the international pet trade. Those smugglers of tarantulas and monkeys, and anything else deemed exotic, bring the animals in, and Americans with a need to own a 14 ft. snake, are purchasing animals. But, soon after they notice their poodle is missing, they take the snake for a car ride and drop him off at the neighborhood swamp. And the python has no problem acclimating to his new environment. Afterall, he’s lived in a glass home, with a light bulb as his sun, and live rats to munch on. Now he has fights with alligators in the swamp and is having the time of his life. Just in one year, 95 pythons were captured in Florida’s Everglades National Park. Did I mention that 100,000 pythons are brought in to our country every year? Fun times ahead for Floridians, because if they open a new university in Pensacola, they just might be called the Pythons. There’s already the Florida Gators, well, because they have a lot of gators. But, look out, because slithery super snakes are there to stay.
2. Kudzu, the plant that ate Georgia- Well, Georgia is still there, but when we drove to Walt Disney World years ago, I was amazed how plants covered telephone poles and other trees. They looked like topiary. Except they weren’t. It was kudzo, from Japan, that was brought over by idiots to use as an erosion stabilizer. What the hell were they thinking? Kudzu now covers over 7 million acres in the south. And it is creeping up north.
Kudzu was introduced to the United States in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Countries brought exhibits to celebrate the 100th birthday of the U.S. The Japanese entry was a beautiful garden filled with plants from their country. American gardeners loved the sweet smell and large leaves of the kudzu. They just had to have some. Soon nursery owners were selling kudzu.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, some bright man in the Soil Conservation Service suggested kudzu for erosion control. Hundreds of men were paid to plant the kudzu. And look what has happened since:
It grows a foot a day and will cover anything it meets. It is as far north as southern West Virginia, but I would argue with that because our neighbor in Fairmont, West Virginia, has kudzu growing on his property. It has creeped up and has covered several pine trees on his property. Goodbye pine trees.
3. The Dreaded Northern Snakehead- Another damn snake? Nope. This is a fish. And it is trouble with a capital T. The exotic snakehead fish was first discovered in 2002 in a pond in Maryland. Oh, this is no ordinary fish. That is probably why it has the word, “snake” in its name. It is a non-stop eating machine. It has no natural enemies and eats anything in its path. It is originally from China, and is found in vegetated muddy swamps, ponds or small streams. But, this part is creepy. Snakeheads can breathe air and live up to four days out of water. Oh, I’m not done. Why you ask, would they need to be out of the water? Well, my friend, they can leave their water home and travel over land to new bodies of water by slithering or wriggling their snaking bodies over the ground. Yeah, creepy.
According to a story by the Washington Post a while back, a man had purchased two snakehead fish at a market in ChinaTown in New York City. He was going to prepare a traditional soup for an ailing sister. Instead of cooking them, since she was feeling better, he released them into a nearby pond. Uh Oh. The man confessed, but the damage was already done. Officials and management teams tried to make sure the snakeheads didn’t escape to nearby waterways by conducting a controlled fish kill. Did it work? Maybe. Maybe not. I would freak out if I saw a fish walking on land. (She shudders.)
4. Wild Monkeys- There are wild monkeys in Florida. Oh, but there shouldn’t be. They have been living there since around 1930. There is a population of rhesus monkeys in central Florida that have been there for 80 years. Some people say that the monkeys escaped while a Tarzan movie was being filmed in that location. Other people say that a manager of a jungle cruise boat ride released them on purpose so tourists would see monkeys, tell their friends, and those people would come for the boat ride. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see a monkey in Florida? People go there to see a mouse. In 1984, there were reports of 400 monkeys living along one particular river. I wonder how many there are now?
I guess I could go on and on. So, there is a big problem. There are thousands of animals and plants that have no business being in our backyards. But, here they are. People travel to see the wild horses in Virginia. and Maryland. That doesn’t seem to be a problem there. There are hundreds, if not thousands of iguanas that have no business living in our country. But, they are in Florida, also. And what about the poor ladybug? It was brought to this country to control aphids. What is going to control the ladybugs now?
I guess it could go the other way. Tarzan and Jane had no business living in a jungle. But, there he was, wrestling with alligators every day when he wasn’t a native species. Who bitched about that? No one. (Ok, I realize that it wasn’t real, but I’m trying to make a point.)
So, you know, if God wanted monkeys to live in Florida, he would have had them in Florida.
So, the moral of the story is that you shouldn’t get your ears pierced, dammit. It’s not natural.