Much of the United States - including "urban and suburban areas" - may soon be overrun by a plague of "giant, invasive snakes" capable of "attacking and killing people", according to genuine federal boffins.
The scientists in question are those of the US Geological Survey, which yesterday published a terrifying report warning of the imminent reptilian conquest.
According to top government snake men Gordon Rodda and Robert Reed, no less than nine "giant non-native snake species" are preparing to sweep as far north as the Mason-Dixon line, with "tens of thousands" of hostile, peckish maneaters already massing in Florida.
"These snakes mature early, produce large numbers of offspring, travel long distances, and have broad diets that allow them to eat most native birds and mammals,” sayd Dr Rodda.
USGS spokesmen make it clear that this includes humans, adding that the swarming serpentine assassins "have been documented as attacking and killing people" - though they do add, perhaps in a misguided attempt to reassure, that "unprovoked attacks appear to be quite rare".
Presumably, then, those who are willing to simply flee their homes and abandon all their possessions (perhaps seeking refugee status in Canada) will be spared by the coldblooded murderers - but any who dare to stand against the invaders will be feasted upon in a dreadful, frenzied orgy of scaly gluttony.
Lest any townie Americans rashly decide that the reptilian dinner-bell may toll for country yokels but not for them, the two federal snake experts issue an uncompromising warning that the slithering horde are perfectly happy in the big city.
Rodda assesses that the attacking monsters are "tolerant of urban or suburban areas" and notes that some species of killer snake "already live wild in the Miami metropolitan area".
The two scientists say that at the moment, despite its status as the world's sole and unchallenged military superpower, America possesses "no control tools yet that seem adequate for eradicating an established population of giant snakes once they have spread over a large area" and add that "in the wild these snakes are extremely difficult to find since their camouflaged colouration enables them to blend in well with their surroundings". It would be difficult to settle the slippery killers even with the aid of thermal weapon sights, as they are cold-blooded - their bodies naturally remain at ambient temperature.
Certain parts of America are judged to be "most at risk of invasion by these giant snakes", namely "parts of Florida, extreme south Texas, Hawaii, and America’s tropical islands, such as Puerto Rico, Guam, and other Pacific islands". These areas should presumably be evacuated at once. But "for a few species, however, larger areas of the continental United States appear to exhibit suitable climatic conditions" - to wit "much of the southern US".
The actual snake species in question range up to 20 feet and 200 pounds dry weight. They are: the Indian, North African, Southern African and reticulated varieties of python; the green, yellow, Bolivian and De Schauensee’s kinds of anaconda; and the boa constrictor. Some are judged to be a particular threat due to being "common in trade and commerce", apparently.
Concerned Americans can read the entire report here, though it might be wiser for residents of southern states to simply flee at once, having first checked one's conveyance for snakes lying in ambush. Naturally, as irresponsible scaremongering journalists, we instead selectively culled our quotes from the splendidly sensationalist announcement which accompanied it. ®