back to article Federal boffins: 'Giant invading snakes' will soon rule USA

Much of the United States - including "urban and suburban areas" - may soon be overrun by a plague of "giant, invasive snakes" capable of "attacking and killing people", according to genuine federal boffins. The scientists in question are those of the US Geological Survey, which yesterday published a terrifying report warning …


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  1. raving angry loony

    hur hur

    So there's a bunch of cold blooded, skin shedding, forked tongue critters concentrating in the South? I thought we already knew about them, and called them "Republicans"?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And yet another reason...

    And yet another reason for me to NOT move back to the states.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh! Canada!

    Clearly while the US crumbles beneath the slithering onslaught Canadian boffins will already be working on breeding big and better mooses (meese?)

  4. Chris Seiter

    Let's see how many I can get


    I for one welcome our slithering forked-tongue overlords.

    Mine's the one with the "Snakes? I Hate Snakes by Indiana Jones" book in the pocket.

    Let's see, what else...

    Where's the IT angle?

    Paris, 'cause she'd know what to do with a long snake.

  5. Chris Seiter

    RE: raving

    Beat me to it, but I still have the others left.

  6. Roger Paul

    Giant Enemy Snake?

    Presumably one could hit its weakpoint for massive damage?

  7. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Poor snakes

    Given the intense and near-universal dislike of snakes by humans, and the proven ability of even pre-historic communities to eradicate large animals, particularly predatory ones, and the scientific and economic resources available in this case, the snakes don't stand a chance.

    The US may not have a strategy in place yet, but you can count on them having several if these critters start to spread into middle class areas.

  8. Number6

    A long swim

    How are they going to get to Hawaii?

  9. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    IT Angle

    Re: Poor snakes

    Just after pushing "Post" I came up with an IT angle:

    As part of the Pentagon's dream of robot soldiers, DARPA will offer $1m to anyone who can build an autonomous killbot that hunts down and destroys large snakes. The winning bot will be capable of operating in confined spaces (sewers, etc) for prolonged periods (week-long stake-outs).

    Once developed, local authorities up and down the country will place orders for several thousand and simply release them into the wild, keeping America safe for decent warm-blooded critters.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Chris Seiter

    The only thing sadder than someone claiming "first' is someone claiming "first" and failing.

  11. Pyros

    Lester needs to stick to mammals on the Biology page.

    There's actually a lower risk of injury from constrictors than from, say, water moccasins (which are plentiful up and down the US East.) The trick is to stay out of their coils--they kill by crushing with their bodies, not biting with their mouths. I'd only be more concerned if they can fall out of tall trees and on top of me.

    I'd be more worried about the small but growing population of monitor lizards in Dade County--and this was revealed after a spirited discussion about a post-apocolyptic Florida using the Fallout continuity.

  12. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    So exactly how did they get to Hawaii?

    Did one of the birds that feed on them carry them?

    Did they travel like jonah inside a Whale?

    I think some more explanation is called for here.

    Paris. Because the price of her fav croc skin shoes has just tippled.

  13. The Indomitable Gall

    Re: Poor snakes

    "Given the ... proven ability of even pre-historic communities to eradicate large animals,"

    Name one? The mammoth appears to have been killed by disease according to the fossil record.

  14. Andrew Stevenson

    Here comes whacking day

  15. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Re: Re: Poor snakes

    (Yeah, this is getting silly...)

    For bonus points (read, export sales), the system should have an option to hunt down cane toads instead. It shouldn't be hard to design the visual recognition system so that it can be re-targeted simply by feeding it a lot of high-quality images of the intended victim.

    Seriously folks, this is how Skynet gets started. At first, it looks like a really good idea. Only later do we find ourselves welcoming our autonomous killbot overlords.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can we eat them?

    Apart from turnaround being fair play, if they taste like chicken then the Americans will just hunt them. Reading some of their hunting magazines, the Yanks will basically go after anything that walks or crawls or hops with anything from knives, bows, handguns to battle tanks.

  17. Brian Miller

    And now they just noticed?

    This was in the news a few years back. Nice of the feds to mention it. These snakes will go after alligators, too. But as for downing people, you would have to be sleeping out in the back yard for them to get you. The snakes move at a maximum speed of 1-2MPH, so they'll get babies, toddlers, and geezers.

    The IT angle is to get the pointy-haired boss drunk at the Florida party...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Large snakes are actually good

    I live here in Florida and I can say they pretty much always keep to themselves, are non-poisonous, and eat rats, possums, frogs, yappy dogs and cats, which is a good thing.

    You don't mess with them, and they don't mess with you, so anybody that gets eaten was an idiot that deserved it. A 15ft python isn't exactly hard to spot.

  19. adnim


    About gun law in the US, otherwise this could of been kinda fun.

  20. peyton?

    How they get to Hawaii

    We have swallows over here too, ya know. They can carry more than just coconuts.

  21. lyndon hughey

    I've had it with these

    Enough is enough! I have had it with these MF snakes on this MF plane!

  22. Robert Hill

    Easy cure...

    is to cure them. Cure them and then eat them.

    My prediction is that "Jimbo Bob's Flori-bama Snake Cookbook and Trapping Guide" will single-handedly erase this menace to society.

    Mine's the one with the Tabasco sauce in the pocket...although I am not entirely sure I am kidding on this one.

  23. Nebulo
    Thumb Up


    and a bit of artistic skill will surely be needed for a Playmobil reconstruction of this one.

  24. Hermes Conran

    @ Steve Davis 3

    "So exactly how did they get to Hawaii?"


  25. Dr_Jim


    Texas and Florida, eh? Is there a Bush connection here?

    Perhaps these are Republican snakes!

  26. Anonymous Coward


    Grab yore knives and sporks, genties and ladlemen.

    The Maoris could clear NZ of much of the wildlife with lo-tech cutlery so in view of the Merkin technological prowess my guess is that the snakes are toast. With a touch of jalapeno.

  27. Aaron Em

    Christ almighty...

    ...this is what we get for having a soldier in charge of biology news.

    "So exactly how did they get to Hawaii?"

    Incompetent would-be "exotic pet" owners discarding them, that's how. Bet you five dollars that's how they got to Miami, too -- I mean, every other place on this planet you encounter a fucked-up biome, you can safely assume that humans are responsible. So why not this place too?

  28. LaeMi Qian

    And the Australian faction says...


    Most snakes tend to only attack things that are either the right size to eat, or directly threatening them. A huge waste of valuable energy and/or venom otherwise - venom is very biologically expensive to make! There are exceptions - over here we have Tiger Snakes, which will go you simply for being in what they feel is their territory. My grandfather used to encourage black snakes on his farm as they chased off the tiger snakes and were less likely to bite you (you generally had to actually step on one to get bitten) and even if you did get bitten you had a far better chance of getting to hospital in time for the anti-venom with a black snake as their venom was slower-acting.

    Not many giant snakes over here though - Aust. tends to specialise in very small things that can kill you.

  29. MeRp

    Glad I live in the northwest...

    Not only do we not have to deal with hurricanes, but we're safe from the giant man-eating constrictor snakes.

    We do have rattlesnakes, though.... damn

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Look on the Bright Side

    They taste like chicken! And none of those animal rights weirdos will be screaming about the poor cuddly snakes we hunt for the Sunday BBQ.

  31. Paul RND*1000
    IT Angle

    IT angle is obvious

    Python. Duh. :)

  32. Richard 102

    Heck ...

    ... I was in a meeting and got to say none of the obvious responses.

    However, I will tell our welcomed UK overlords that most of the gun-owning and hunting in the US is done by southerners, who do NOT like being called "Yanks" or "Yankees"; those are the people they fought in The War of the Northern Aggression [sic].

    On a positive note, we now have found some way that Al Gore can be useful: rolling on and crushing 100 of these things at once.

    Mine's the one with Steve Earl's "Copperhead Road" in the pocket.

  33. Chris iverson

    Having a friend that lives in the area

    He lives in Texas ('m in California, pretty much the same just swap repub for lib etc) and judging by the average arsenal that is stowed there the snakes may well just turn into target practice. Also having shot most of the afore mentioned arsenal some of which is modified as to be able to clear an average sized club of its fleshy bits in mere seconds that said snakes would not have much of a chance to attack unless it were by surprise and they were knife proof.

    Hand grenade since I will paint it like a dog and feed it to the snakes

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    "no control tools yet that seem adequate for eradicating an established population of giant snakes once they have spread over a large area"


    480 Million Firearms are a control method!!!!!!

    Just tell the septics that said snakes are Commies, Aliens, Terrorists, Minions of Satan come bring about the end of days, liberals or French and i am sure that the snake population will become threatened with extinction in only a matter of weeks.

    Of course they will probably napalm vast swathes of country side as well and i am sure that there will be more than one accident whereby a small township will be wiped out because the occupants have a congenital lisp but things happen in war, especially when fighting the forces of evil!!!!!!!!!!

    Death to all Evil, Commie, Alien, Terrorist, French, Liberal Snakes!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  35. rc

    Wasn't there a story about giant rodents moving north?

    That's just nature finding a balance then. We need some giant snakes to eat our giant rodents. @Robert Hill.... To true. We'll eat pretty much anything except insects. How would you like your python, southern fried, barbecue, or cajun style? I've hunted and eaten rattlesnakes several times. I'm up in the NW so we don't get pythons or anacondas unless they're indoor pets. They don't taste like chicken but they are good eating. Mind the end with the teeth. Even 'constrictor' type snakes have some pretty nasty teeth. No worries though, if we get too many we'll just eat them.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Florida, home to Republicans

    Davour them all my pet!

  37. Sarah 7

    The Canada Option

    If we evacuate to Canada, do we get decent health care like every other civilized nation on the planet besides the US (OK, civilized is debatable)? I'm there!

  38. JohnG

    IT angle for you

    I thought it was funny that the USGS website has pictures of snakes associated with the report as uncompressed BMPs.

  39. Scott 1

    The snakes better watch out...

    ...when they reach Louisiana. We Cajuns will put just about anything in our gumbo.

  40. Eugene Goodrich
    Paris Hilton

    @ Can we eat them?

    This is absolutely the solution, if they are at all nutritious and agreeable of flavor.

    Paris, because of a reason someone else pointed out earlier.

  41. J 3

    their camouflaged coloration

    "in the wild these snakes are extremely difficult to find since their camouflaged colouration enables them to blend in well with their surroundings"

    Ha, this must be a fake announcement! No American boffin would write "colouration"!

    @ how to Hawaii?

    Well, the same way they got from Asia and S. America to the lower States...

    (This part is serious. Sorta.)

  42. Tom Maddox Silver badge

    "As far north as the Mason-Dixon line"

    So, nowhere important is at risk, then.

  43. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I'm from Louisiana ...

    2 Snakes, three to four feet long, 3 cups of Milk, 1/2 tsp Garlic juice - fresh garlic of course, 1 tsp Crystal Hot Sauce, A couple of small grated onions, A good pinch of ground cayenne pepper, A good pinch of fresh ground black pepper, Salt to taste, 1/2 cup of Flour, Oregano and Cilantro to taste, and a cup of shortening

    Method : Skin, clean and rinse snake well. Cover with whole milk and garlic juice in a plastic mixing bowl, refrigerate overnight. Pat dry, season with onions, hot sauce, cayenne and black pepper, and add salt to taste. Add cilantro and oregano to the flour. Heat shortening in an iron skillet. Lightly flour the snake and fry until golden-brown. Mashed potatoes, brown gravy, corn on the cob, and coleslaw are an excellent compliment for this as always.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let me be the first....

    to welcome our swarming serpentine assassin overlords. Oh wait.. I live in the UK, we've already welcomed them and voted them in fot two terms of office. So I'm a bit late there then.

  45. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Knock, Knock.......

    There is an interesting and undeniable Parallel/Synergy/Singularity in such a report whenever one consider the Computer Wwworm and Embedding Sublime Programs.

    Which is a Task for CyberIntelAIgent Security Offices to Counter with their Special Intelligence Services in Command of Advanced Innovative Virtual Defence Servers.

    A String to GCHQ's Bow ...... Arrows to their Quiver for Achilles Heel Use.

    And an ASP is a snake, is it not?

    "As part of the Pentagon's dream of robot soldiers, DARPA will offer $1m to anyone who can build an autonomous killbot that hunts down and destroys large snakes." .... By Ken Hagan Posted Wednesday 14th October 2009 15:44 GMT

    Ken, Something similar for the above would be IARPA territory ....and $SevenSevens would buy into ITs HyperRadioProActive Killbots most Assuredly. And that would be a Real Bargain of the Century/Steal given the Untold Damage and Incalculable Losses which can be Incurred with Inadequate Intelligence in such Virtual Fields of InterReAction. And if anyone asks ... $EightEights buys a Necessarily SurReal NEUKlearer Model for Immediate Deployment complete with Field Driver Instruction.

    And a dollar off a Billion would surely purchase an Armada Fleet .... for Lovelace Action and Unparalleled Performance.

  46. disgruntled yank

    heat and diet

    1. I'm glad to have been reassured by El Reg that the snakes can bear the projected hot temperatures. It would be a shame if they had to slither back south again.

    2. About 30 years ago a restaurant in Washington, DC, was rebuked and perhaps fined for serving rattlesnake--their menu had an endangered version of the snake (Pennsylvanian v. Californian perhaps). So the recipes are out there. Google will quickly lead you to a few

    3. There is an annual rattlesnake-hunting contest every year in Sweetwater, TX. See

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    The Snakes Avoid Mullets...

    ...which means it's a Confederate plot to exterminate Yankees.

    The South Will Rahze Agin!

  48. Stevie


    Bring it on, legless!

  49. kain preacher


    So no here saw snakes on the plane.

    To be fare we yanks dont eat cat ,dog or horse . But meat is meat

  50. 4HiMarks
    Gates Horns

    Python boots!

    I see a new pair of exotic skinned cowboy boots in every American's future. Plus a big batch of Anaconda chili. Problem solved.

  51. Chris Seiter

    FCC Edited Version

    I actually watched SOAP (?) on FX, and the dubbed version was "these Monday-Friday snakes on this monkey-fighting plane"

    And... FAIL big or don't FAIL at all

  52. Anonymous Coward

    Tastes Like Chicken

    Since they are edible I really don't see what the problem is.

  53. Daemon ZOGG


    "The actual snake species in question range up to 20 feet and 200 pounds dry weight."

    That's before they're fully fueled and armed. Right?

    From experience, Florida & South Texas both have their fair share of reptiles. More than most of the other states. However, Snake encounters of this magnitude are so rare, it's usually reserved for the back page of some local newspaper. Lethal encounters are extremely rare and are usually reserved for alligators and crocodiles.

    Poisonous snakes, usually shorter than your leg, in wooded areas and far out rural areas are the guilty parties in most injury or death cases. And that's only because the snake was acting out of defense.

    As for the two researchers at the US Geological Survey, they should be tested again for drugs and signs of schizophrenia. Because they definately failed all of the previous tests.

    This would have made a great April Fools Story.


  54. USA IT, where it all started

    Pity the snakes

    These snakes don't stand a chance.

    Years ago, I was an engineer in a manufacturing plant located in rural Arkansas. Somehow, two African Lions were released into the woods. The locals guessed that they had escaped a nearby animal refuge, but the owner of said refuge claimed that a person trying to give him the lions had abandoned them after he refused to accept them.

    Either way, once it was known that there were lions loose in the woods, and the police were OK with the locals hunting them “out of season”, they only lasted a few hours. If you dig up news reports of the incident, the locals claim to be keeping their guns handy because they were scared there might be more lions on the loose. As a former resident of the area, I can tell you the truth was this: the locals were jealous of the hunter that got the first two, and they wanted their own trophy.

    We Americans have strict hunting laws because, without them, the hunters will completely eradicate the species being hunted. A common example is the passenger pigeon, but many states had local wildlife erased – deer, coyotes, wolves, bear, etc. Some of these states have “re-introduced” the species to their former habitats, but it's still difficult to keep the hunters from wiping them out again.

    So to sum up, if these things become a nuisance (say, eating pet dogs) it won't take an elaborate plan to eliminate them. All it will take is for the police to pass the word that you can legally hunt them. The extermination would go even faster if you tell the hunters the snakes either a)taste good, b)make a good trophy, or c) put a bounty on the snakes.

    Joke note: If you give the hunters a bottle of whiskey for every snake killed, the snakes might not last a week.

    Hand grenade because the hunters used to use these to fish, and they would again if it was still legal.

  55. Edward Clarke

    Here's the solution

    Eat them.

  56. Joe User
    Thumb Up

    Mmmm, KFS (Kentucky Fried Snake)!

    A 20-foot python means lots of snake on the barbie!

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Snakes? Huh?

    Sorry but us in the Southern US already have a plan for eradicating snakes. See, lurking in the comments section on ole El Reg I have read many half-assed comments about guns and the gun happy rednecks here in 'merka. Good thing too, I don't know if TASERS work on snakes.

    Pass me my 4/10 or 12 gauge and I'll be happily eating boa stew tonight.

    Gun control...yeah right. That's being able to hit what you're shooting at.

    **By the way, a nice 12 gauge shotgun can be had for $189.00 at Wal-Mart. :)

  58. D 13

    Are these monster snakes bullet proof?

    because if they aren't it's going to be a very short war for control of the US.

  59. Anonymous Coward

    I'm thinking

    Lots of nice new snakeskin clothes.

  60. PunkTiger


    Where's St. Patrick when you need him?

    It's a Good Thing (tm) that I live in New England. let's see one of those slithery tropical beasties last through a good New England winter.

    Point and laugh, boys. Point and laugh.

  61. Pyros

    @Robert Hill

    You'll want to thouroughly cook the meat first, though--they easily carry parasites like freshwater eel do. :)

    Mmm, BBQ snake on an open flame. :D

  62. Martin Usher

    Python boots back in fashion?

    Given that many Americans in these areas are armed to the teeth and really like hunting things I don't think the snakes have much of a chance.....

  63. Charles Smith

    Not terrible hazard

    These snakes are less dangerous than a curry down at the Anglo Alsatian Restaurant down at the end of my street.

    For Robert Hill's delectation these 15 foot visitors reputedly taste like chicken when cooked.

  64. Anonymous Coward

    No worry about snakes, until after they cross Mason-Dixon

    Civilians south of Mason-Dixon are much better armed than civilians to the north - 45's makes big holes in big snakes...

  65. Anonymous John

    @ Let's see how many I can get

    Ophidian overlords is the phrase you're groping for.

  66. Anonymous Coward


    On a motherf***ing plain!

  67. JP-2.0

    Scientists call this disease "bromadrosis"

    You know, my python boot was too tight

    Couldn't get it off last night

    A week went by

    And now it's July

    I finally got it off, and my girlfriend cried,

    "You've got stink-foot"

  68. jake Silver badge

    @Version 1.0

    Kind of insipid for Louisiana, isn't it? Here in California, when I have to shoot a big rattler or two, I use the recipe I often use for whole chicken legs.

    Mix 6 cups Buttermilk with one 5 oz bottle Tabasco. This mixture will keep for a while, so only use enough to cover, refrigerate the rest for tomorrow/next weekend. Soak cleaned/skinned snake 4+ hours (yes, I use ziplocks). Overnight is better. Drip-dry, and lightly flour with seasoned cornmeal (seasonings vary according to mood, but use at least 1/2 tsp salt and another half tsp chipolte powder (I use tipico, morita works well, too) per cup of corn meal). Allow to rest for half an hour or so after flouring, to allow the buttermilk to be soaked into the corn meal. Cook over medium-low indirect heat (~270F), with smoke (I use Red Oak and green Manzanita branches) until done.

    Serve with fresh, warm corn tortillas, rice, black beans, pico de gallo and queso fresco (home-made is best, if you have the time, for all of the above), and a good IPA to wash it all down (Lagunitas works nicely). My field hands love it when we have to kill a rattler[1] ... The standing deal is that I have to make lunch the next day! :-)

    [1] We only kill them if they are found more than twice per molt in or around the areas the kids have access to ... a little lacquer stripe, and then they get released in the areas we have ground-squirrel issues, half a mile or more from any out-buildings. The cats around here don't need help policing the barns for rodents.

  69. TeeCee Gold badge

    @AC 23:31

    Hmm, is it that you can't spell and have also failed to notice that one's already been done to death or are you speculating on what'll happen when they reach the wide open flat bits of the US?

  70. HFoster
    Paris Hilton

    Nobody cried bullshit yet?

    I remember hearing that by the turn of the century, the USA would be overrun by Africanized Honey Bees, aka Killer Bees.

    AFAIK, the only Killer Bees America has had to deal with to date were the ones Wu Tang rapped about.

    Of course, I could be wrong. In which case, go fuck yourselves. Therefore, Paris.

  71. derek anderson
    Paris Hilton

    Pity its a complete lie really


    The irritating thing about this story ( aside from the depressing statistic that every single fact mentioned in it is wrong ) is that the dumb bastards are using this bollocks to try and ban the importation and interstate transportation of a whjole slew of animals.

    This will penalise thousands of honest reptile keepers and effectively shut down large sections of the pet trade.

    They bleat that this is about conservation but yet cats and dogs are allowed to eat the native wildlife at will with n'ery a peep.

    Only parts of florida will EVER be affected - the climate in the other places mentioned will not support a population of any of the species of python and no boa constrictor comes close to being as deadly as they claim.

    As a side point the total deaths from snakes in the US in the past 20 years is..........

    Drumroll please...


    And this includes the native venomous snakes as well. The much hyped news stories are quietly updated as the truth comes out - the child "killed by a 12 foot burmese python" recently turned out to have been killed by the parents who tried to use the snake to cover it up. The snake was only 8 foot long by the way and being kept illegally in improper housing in the first place.

    But I guess "drug selling lackwit kills own child - also keeps a snake" isn't as catchy a headline.

    The idiots involved in this legislative fiasco are happily fellating PETA thinking they are kissing mother nature.

    Oh and even their own experts are now backing hurriedly away from the population estimates originally claimed to be in the wild.

    The more I see of people like this the more I like my snakes.

    Oh and paris because we have stupid, fellating and drugs in the post already.

    Valtrex for the win!!

    dr del

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Snakes "common in trade and commerce"

    What jobs do they do?


    Car Salesmen?

    We should be told.

  73. John F***ing Stepp

    Mason-Dixon line?

    Ah yes, global warming again raises its ugly head.

    And hisses.

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