While Floridians continue to battle a thriving, invasive population of huge Burmese pythons — big enough to take down and swallow deer — and an infestation of virtually bombproof giant hissing Madagascar cockroaches, they now have to deal with the latest imported plague: Giant African Land Snails.
These critters aren’t just XL-sized escargot, either. They grow as big as rats, eat plaster in addition to greenery and their shells are hard enough to puncture your tires if you roll over one. Back in 1966, a kid returned to Florida from vacation with three of ’em to keep as pets. His granny turned them loose in the garden and before they knew it, state wildlife authorities were chasing 17,000 of them. It took 10 years and over $1,000,000 (in ’60s dollars) to eradicate them.
Nobody knows where the current invasion came from, but Miami-Dade County reports they’re trapping an average of 1,000 per week — with more than 117,000 caught so far — and they’re spreading rapidly.
Several Caribbean islands are becoming overrun with them, where they’ve caused car accidents involving blown-out tires. People have suffered serious injuries when they have accidentally mowed them over with rotary-powered lawnmowers, as fragments of the shells become high-velocity shrapnel.
They will not only wipe out other species and devour your flowers, but they also eat stucco and plaster to boost their calcium intake, so they can grow their super-tough shells. Most poison baits used so far haven’t been strong enough to kill them and they lay 1,200 eggs a year.
Perhaps Florida needs some sharp-eyed varmint hunters? By the way, escargot lovers: forget about eating Giant African Land Snails. Aside from their other wonderful attributes, they carry parasitic rat lungworm. Even the French won’t touch ’em.
Relax, Your Tax Dollars Are Being Spent Wisely
I’m sure glad somebody’s finally lookin’ at this; I’ve been losin’ sleep over it. Through the National Institutes of Health we’ve learned that — and this from a $939, 771 tax-funded experiment — that male fruit flies, both young and old, are more attracted to young female fruit flies than they are to old female fruit flies. They learned that the female fruit-fly pheromone which attracts males for sex fades away to almost nothing as the female fruit fly gets old. Huh? Who woulda guessed that? Worth every penny, I’d say.
I’m not so pleased with the $600,000 study hoping to learn why chimpanzees throw their poop at people. They never got an answer to that one — I think it’s because people stare at them, make stupid faces and call ’em names. If I were naked, trapped in a cage and you tried that with me, I guarantee I’d throw poop at you —but only if there were no rocks available.
We paid $175,000 to learn whether snortin’ cocaine encouraged “risky sexual behavior” by Japanese quail. I’m guessing that a quail stoned out of his gourd on cocaine might try to get romantic with a coyote, and that would be sorta — “risky.”
So, relax and treat yourself to some caviar. We spent $300,000 on a USDA program encouraging you to eat more fancy fish eggs.
How Do You Lose A Gunfight — And Win?
The Billings, Mont. police officer involved in this caper was named in the news, but I gotta think the guy’s been shamed enough, so we’ll just call him “Officer Doof,” okay?
Doof responded to a call that some dude was displaying a small handgun both outside and inside the Stampede Country Sports Bar on North 28th Street. The suspect, later identified as Anthony Allen, 44, left the bar on foot. Officer Doof spotted him walking a short distance away, and at a distance of about 25 yards told him to stop and show his hands. Allen failed to comply and made a sudden grab toward his waist. Doof heard a gunshot, and that’s when he cut loose!
Officer Doof fired nine rounds from his .40 Smith & Wesson pistol. Allen was shot in the leg — but not by Officer Doof! Two of Doof’s rounds were accounted for. One smote a sidewalk bench, another round grievously wounded an innocent tree, and the other seven went who-knows-where… So who shot Anthony Allen? He did. Allen shot himself while trying to pull a .22 caliber revolver from his pants. He later said he was trying to pull the gun out and lay it down. Nice try, Anthony. Just be glad you shot yourself with a .22 and didn’t catch any of those .40-cal rounds.
Allen was charged with felony assault on a peace officer. As for Officer Doof, as Yoda would say, “Range, you must go. Practice, you must.”
By Commander Gilmore
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