Update on Snakes!

When I first wrote the section on Safety, I ignored the issue of Snakes because there never was any. That began to change with the shutting down of the Hovensa refinery. These are not venomous snakes but rather slow moving Red tailed Boa constrictors. I have updated the safety section and am posting it here.

Update on snakes:

For the same reasons that almost every plant had to be brought to St. Croix by humans, so did most animal life arrive at the hand of man. Iguanas were brought for food, deer were brought for hunting and meat and mongoose were brought to kill vermin. During the first 5000 years of human occupancy by Amerindians, Africans and Europeans, no one was dumb enough to bring snakes to the island.

Starting in 1990, there was a huge demand for construction labor to build large refinery units and also rebuild the island after Hurricane Hugo. Perhaps 10,000 people moved to the island to work. Most returned while others stayed and got jobs at the enlarged refinery or started their own construction businesses.

Dr. William Coles, chief of wildlife for the Division of Fish and Wildlife at the Department of Planning and Natural Resources on St. Croix reported that he caught the first imported red tail boa in 2008 but that increased to a few a year after 2012. All of them were sighted west of the Carlton area.

Coles believes they were originally brought in as exotic pets by someone who worked for HOVENSA. When the refinery closed in 2012, many workers returned to the mainland and some left their snakes and other pets behind.

The red tail boa feeds on native birds, chickens, rats, mongoose and small dogs. They are able to climb trees, making them a threat to native bird species.

The red tail boa is generally not harmful to humans. It can bite but it is not venomous. It hunts at night and hides out during the day. If it hunts a small animal there will be no evidence as the small animal will simply disappear in the snakes digestive system. While not damaging to humans, the potential disruption to native birds, animals and pets is the reason for the attempted eradication of these non-native snakes. 

Advertisements

About John Boyd

I have been hiking the hills and beaches of St. Croix Virgin Islands for over 30 years and in retirement have decided to become a Heritage Hiking Guide specializing in the local history, geology, settlers, plant life and environmental changes by all settlers of the last 2000 years but just along the trails I hike.
This entry was posted in Safety, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s