On the Town: On snakes, owls and bills — but not Clinton’s

Warning sign at beach-walk entry to Marco Beach next to royal Seafarer condo. Wow, cobras on Marco? Not likely, unless somebody had one as a house pet and dumped it somewhere around here or in the Everglades.

Photo by CHRIS CURLE // Buy this photo

Warning sign at beach-walk entry to Marco Beach next to royal Seafarer condo. Wow, cobras on Marco? Not likely, unless somebody had one as a house pet and dumped it somewhere around here or in the Everglades.

Could this money be in your pocket or purse soon? There are some currency changes coming. Could this be one?

Phony photo by Chris Curle

Could this money be in your pocket or purse soon? There are some currency changes coming. Could this be one?

Warning sign at beach-walk entry to Marco Beach next to royal Seafarer condo. Wow, cobras on Marco? Not likely, unless somebody had one as a house pet and dumped it somewhere around here or in the Everglades.

Photo by CHRIS CURLE // Buy this photo

Warning sign at beach-walk entry to Marco Beach next to royal Seafarer condo. Wow, cobras on Marco? Not likely, unless somebody had one as a house pet and dumped it somewhere around here or in the Everglades.

Beware of snakes in Marco

The sign shows a king cobra, presumably ready to strike with its potentially deadly venom. The snake signs are posted where the new walkway between the Madeira and Royal Seafarer condos meets the beach.

Trouble is, we don’t have king cobras around here.

The world’s longest venomous snake lives in mainland Southeast Asia and throughout the dense highland forest ranging from Northern India to Southeastern China through the Malay Peninsula to western Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

The puzzle of the cobra warning sign was solved by Dale Nicholas, manager of the Royal Seafarer.

“We do have snakes in those dunes. We have snakes around the pool and in the building from time to time, probably a dozen sightings a year. I’m trying to alert people about snakes. There are some poisonous snakes in Florida. If anyone walks in that area where they shouldn’t be and gets bitten, I don’t want to be liable. So we put up the signs to protect ourselves. I haven’t seen cobras because they’re not native to Florida, but you need a sign that will get people’s attention.

“A sign with a picture is always more effective… and since you’re trying to warn them about snakes, that cobra puts a pretty good impression in your mind.”

Mr. Nicholas also apparently has another reason for the signs.

“That area is where people come and ‘go to the bathroom’ a lot and our people have to look at that when they are looking out at the beach, which is not the most pleasant thing. But the city decided not to put public restrooms here, so that’s going to continue to be a problem I’m sure.”

Speaking of problems, some people might have a problem “going to the bathroom” while a picture of a king cobra is staring at them.

As we often do with issues about nature here, we turned to the city’s environmental specialist, Nancy Richie, for the snake lowdown.

She says there are black snakes in those dunes but they’re harmless to humans, non-venomous, non-poisonous. They eat rats and lizards.

“We have some exotic species on Marco, including coral snakes, but to date, no reports of cobras. If someone DOES see a cobra, please, please let me know.” Heck, Nancy, if we see a cobra, we’re telling everybody.

Owls on the prowl?

It’s now officially burrowing owl nesting season on Marco Island. It started Feb. 16, according to humans.

It’s not clear how the burrowing owls know the exact date.

Experts say it’s possible that the owls depend on other sources to know when to find a mate and settle down to create and raise some chicks.

So as we enjoy these wonderful creatures in our midst, we asked Marco’s city environmental specialist, Nancy Richie, for an owl update for so far in 2008.

Her findings:

-- Number of sites to date — 98

-- Number of sites with a pair of owls showing nesting behavior — 36

-- Number of single owls with no mate so far — 12

These figures may change by the time you read this, of course. These little critters have minds of their own.

Also, if you would like to help Nancy keep her owl watch statistics, you can let her know via e-mail at nrichie@cityofmarcoisland.com or phone her office at 389-5003.

We’re getting older, in case you missed it

Somewhat overlooked in a recent report on how America will change demographically in the next four decades is the part about our aging population.

So in case you missed the Pew Research Study, some highlights:

The nation’s population of seniors 65 and over will more than double to 81 million by 2050, largely due to baby boomer retirements. The last of the baby boom generation will reach 65 in 2029.

For every 100 working age adults in the US, we’ll have 32 seniors. Today the ratio is 100 to 20.

Add to the seniors our population of children and we’ll have 72 non-working people for every 100 who have jobs.

Why? According to authors of the study, “It’s not what’s going on in the future, it’s what went on in the past. Our parents had so many kids.”

Collectors’ item coming soon to your wallet?

A newly designed five-dollar bill will be released to the public on March 13. It still will feature Abraham Lincoln but he’ll look different.

Rumor has it he’ll bear a striking resemblance to Barak Obama. The Clintons are furious!

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Don Farmer has been a full-time Marco Islander for ten years and a part-time resident for more than 30 years. He says full-time is better. Farmer welcomes your ideas for column items via e-mail at don@donfarmer.com.

© 2008 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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