Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Should I now learn to make snakeskin leather?

I will discuss one of the problems that is an indicator of the future changes that may happen at my farm as a result of global warming. I am now host to the wildlife that has decided to move nearer to the urban community that has invaded my quiet haven in the town of Silang.

At my farm, wildlife are now turning up in the wrong places. This may seem trivial to most people who will claim it is a normal thing to find snakes in the gardens in the tropics. I think it is not abnormal to find snakes, but not dozens of 15 foot pythons in the area where I have my farm.

For the first time, the annual deluge has brought me some very large pythons that are showing up very hungry! These larger pythons are showing up on my farm more and more frequently, and all I can think about is, whether or not this is a normal or strange effect of the 2o years of subdivision development upland?

The pythons are attracted by my free range chickens, they have been hunting and foraging nearer and nearer to our area, and now finally have invaded my farm. These large pythons come over during the rainy season,carried by the floodwater from the higher elevation that was once full of coconut and fruit orchards. In the past, it was a normal thing that we lose a few chickens, but mainly the younger ones that don't come in at night. We only feed our free range chickens in the late afternoon, and bring them inside the barn area where they safely nest at night.

These large serpents coming in have changed everything. We are now catching them coming in through drains, and through the roofs, and killing more than 5 chickens at a time. They can get part of their bodies into the shed by breaking down portions of the screen with their heads, then killing the chickens by crushing them in their powerful embrace, but they cannot swallow and leave with their bellies full. In fact, one very large python got into the chicken coop, swallowed three chickens then regugurated them back because it could not squeeze back through the opening it made before the sun came out for a new day. There was the large python lying with dead chickens beside it, and it was cowering in a corner, a massive coiled serpent. How does one wrangle with a massive male python? We are sorry to say, it was necessary to kill it, than for our farm hands to lose a limb and or their lives in trying to catch them.

This is what a dead chicken crushed by a python looks like. This chicken belonged to another farmer. I just pitied the chicken to see it like that. The chicken in this picture, had every bone crushed by a 10 foot python.

My chickens are not tied, and they can run if they see a snake, but a sleeping hen has no chance to get away from a big python that has fish-hook type teeth and bone crushing force to squeeze it to death.

A few female pythons we caught on our farm were smaller, about 9-11 feet in length. I personally found a big one that took refuge under the overgrown plants near my horse stable. The snake couldn't hide for very long since the color of the one we caught was a beautiful yellow and ochre color.

When we roam around our property, we now have to check for snakes before they find us. I am careful because some snakes that may be poisonous try to catch geckos and can wander their way into our house.

Boa constrictors give birth to live young, and will find a spot that is away from people, whereas pythons lay eggs in nests of mud and grass, and tend to be very bold about moving into property that has a ready food supply.

Our poultry farm is near the river. Boas prefer to stay in trees waiting to lurk around sleeping birds at night, or sleepy bats during the day. Pythons like to make their way up sewage pipes and big drains to get into an underground tunnel where they will sleep for weeks until hunger wakes them up. Pythons will then start to hunt by using their heat pits to locate prey. They are very effective during the darker days of the rainy season and it is often when they are sighted slithering away with a big belly, and desperate to get back into their tunnels and holes after feeding.

This large python was killed by a security guard in another poultry farm in Batangas. The guard shot in the head after it was caught inside the barn after eating 4 chickens. The python regurgurated the chickens and tried to flee but there would be no way to catch a 15 foot python without being seriously injured.

Pythons also feed on anything they can catch. Their favorite food are birds and bats, and when orchards are cut, a lot of these pythons that roost in trees or caves eating bats, and birds will be very hungry and start looking for prey in poultry farms, or homes where there may be small mammals like rats.

I used to catch and release the pythons far in the neighboring area of Indang, or Amadeo, but I realize these pythons can lay as much as 80 eggs that will populate the countryside at an alarming rate if these are not managed somehow. Pythons usually forage during the early morning or late afternoon, or on moonlit nights. They usually eat birds, rats, small mammals, lizards and of course the occassional feral chicken, dog or cat.

We have caught at least a dozen large pythons this year. We used to rarely catch one over 4 feet, but now these serpents are showing up looking like they are big enough to eat an entire goat.

I wonder if I should shift from raising free range chicken to raising free range pythons for leather?

The few we caught were given over to the natives to eat. They value the meat as tasting like chicken !! well, of course...they ate my chickens! Now they are eaten...karma..