With the Florida Python Challenge on the horizon, officials are warning residents to be extra cautious when it comes to eating python meat. The novelty pie known as “Everglades Pizza,” which also contains alligator meat and frog legs, has become an attraction at a number of Florida locations, but diners should be wary of exactly where the python is coming from. Burmese pythons in the Everglades contain some of the highest levels of mercury found in a living creature.
“For some reason, the pythons that are coming out of here, they have mercury concentrations higher than mine waste, a mercury mine,” said Everglades superintendent Dan Kimball. “According to (USGS scientist Dave Krabbenhoft), they’ve never found anything that has this high of mercury levels that’s still alive. It is amazing.”
In 2009, two dozen python tails were sent to Dr. Krabbenhoft to test in the USGS Mercury Research Laboratory in Wisconsin. The tests found that the samples contained a mercury concentration of 5.5 parts per million, which, according to the USGS report, is “about three times greater than concentrations in tail tissues of the American alligator.” Florida residents are warned against eating fish with levels higher than 1.5 parts per million.
At least one pizza parlor in Naples is offering “Everglades Pizza” in relation to the upcoming Python Challenge.