There's a clamoring in Florida to put python on the menu! But state officials first have to figure out whether the giant snakes contain too much mercury. A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rep says, "We would like to use consumption as another way to encourage people to remove pythons in Florida if the meat is safe to eat."
The nonvenomous constrictors are considered a risk to south Florida's wildlife. Introduced to the Everglades in the 1980s-likely as released or escaped pets-their numbers have boomed and left officials scrambling to get the python population under control. Now the fish and wildlife commission is working with the Florida Department of Health to determine pythons' mercury levels, but one official says that Mercury is a naturally occurring element in the environment and it is high in the Everglades.
On the upside, one python hunter says she eats some smaller pythons (about seven feet long) after testing them for mercury and says they have "the texture of fish, but it tastes more like chicken. A Python Elimination Program, which runs alongside the mercury study, has removed 6,000 pythons from the Everglades so far.