This manaconda is constricting the Sunshine State.
Thought California’s flotilla of “sea penises” wasn’t phallic enough? Enter the “penis snake,” a similarly manhood-shaped invader that’s causing a hubbub in Florida.
“Very little is known about these animals in the wild,” Florida herpetologist Coleman Sheehy told Creative Loafing of the member-evoking creature, which first surfaced in the state two years ago. Authorities had captured a 2-foot-long specimen at the C-4 Canal, near Miami International Airport, and put it in captivity, where it unfortunately died of starvation.
Its remains were subsequently sent to the Florida Museum of Natural History, where DNA analysis identified the penile critter as a caecilian, a type of virtually blind, legless amphibian that resides in the jungles of South America and Asia. This particular species, which is endemic to Venezuela and Colombia, had never been observed in the US before, Creative Loafing reported.
“This was not on my radar,” exclaimed Sheehy. “I didn’t think we’d one day find a caecilian in Florida. So, this was a huge surprise.”
Colloquially known as a “penis snake” due to its phallic countenance, this noodle-shaped creature hunts by using a pair of face tentacles to detect snails, lizards and other prey.
Thankfully, despite growing up to 5 feet long, this creature doesn’t pose a threat to humans.
“There’s nothing particularly dangerous about them, and they don’t appear to be serious predators,” said Sheehy, adding that they’ll “probably eat small animals and get eaten by larger ones.”
Nonetheless, researchers are concerned that the critters are here to stay as multiple caecilians have been found in the same body of water since 2019. Currently, they’re trying to figure out “whether caecilians are established in the C-4 Canal,” said Sheehy.
Scientists aren’t sure how the South American migrant got there in the first place, although they suspect they might’ve been released by careless owners as that species is the most common in the pet trade.