The Python Invasion Project: Repticon



Imagine an auditorium packed floor to ceiling with boxes full of some of the world's most feared snakes and reptiles: boa constrictors, pythons, tegus. Twice a year, that's the scene at the War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale, as Repticon, the nation's largest reptile show, slithers into town for the legions of reptile enthusiasts in South Florida.

In the most recent show, we interviewed several breeders of exotic snakes and some of the authorities tasked with keeping people safe from them. "I'm tired of breeders getting a bad rap, and the python thing being sensationalized in the media," said breeder Adam Chesla. "Responsible breeders and pet owners are paying the price."

Chesla cross-breeds boas and other snakes to form unique patterns, and charges hundreds of dollars for the most unusual. He says he makes sure that people who buy the snakes know what they are getting into and are aware that there are ways to dispose of them responsibly if they want to.

Irresponsible pet owners who released invasive reptiles into the everglades over the last 30 years are partially responsible for the python invasion happening in the Everglades, explains Capt. Chuck "Big Country" Seifert, from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue's Venom Response Unit.

But Seifert said he believes the real trouble started when a breeding facility in southern Miami-Dade, near the Everglades, was destroyed by hurricane Andrew in 1992, and up to 900 pythons went missing.

"They were literally blown into the Everglades," said Seifert, who has appeared in National Geographic, The History Channel, Discovery and Animal Planet, among other networks.

After Hurricane Andrew, regulations for outdoor enclosures were tightened, he said.

We take viewers into Repticon in this sixth installment of The Python Invasion project, outtakes from production shoots of a documentary featured on The documentary will broadcast on WPBT2 later in the year.

Oscar Corral (@ojcorral) is the founder and president of Explica Media, and the director and producer of The Python Invasion.

Read more Environment stories from the Miami Herald

A greater sage grouse male strutting in southwestern Idaho's Owyhee County. The male greater sage grouse is known for an elaborate courtship ritual to attract females. The greater sage grouse could be classified as an endangered species next year. (Photo courtesy of Ken Miracle)

    For Boise man, retirement brought a new passion: Saving the sage grouse

    Ken Miracle can’t remember exactly when he became fascinated with the plump greater sage grouse that strut about on the once-endless sagebrush expanses of southern Idaho.

  • Big firms agree to cut use of coolants that add to global warming

    A week before world leaders will discuss how to slow the increase of dangerous gases in the atmosphere, the Obama administration announced that it has reached agreements with a range of major companiesto voluntarily phase out a class of chemicals, used in refrigerators and air conditioners, and seen as contributors to global warming.

  • Jindal pushes oil and coal use, rejects climate change rules

    Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who hopes to use detailed position papers to build a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, released an energy plan Tuesday that calls for expanded oil and gas production and reversing the Obama administration's efforts against climate change.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category