Fast Facts: Burmese Pythons in Florida

Fast Facts - Burmese pythons in the wild in Florida

  • Approximately 112,000 of these Asian snakes have been imported into the United States since 1990.
  • Everglades National Park has been the site of suspected releases of these exotic pets. The National Park Service reported the removal of 311 Burmese pythons from the Everglades in 2008.
  • Other pythons have been captured in Big Cypress National Preserve and Collier Seminole State Park, north of the Everglades; areas around Miami to the northeast; Key Largo to the southeast and other lands, both public and private, throughout the region.
  • A recent report from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) shows that the Burmese python could survive throughout Florida. The report states that other factors, such as food and shelter, need consideration, but the "Burmese pythons and other giant constrictor snakes have shown themselves to be highly adaptable to new environments."
  • A non-venomous constrictor, the Burmese python preys on native Florida species of mammals, birds and reptiles, as well as nonnative species including black rats. They have eaten Key Largo woodrats, a federally endangered species.
  • Observations suggest mammal populations declined in Everglades National Park about the same time pythons were introduced (see http://www.pnas.org/content/109/7/2418.full.pdf+htmlExternal Website). Further work needs to be done, however, to confirm these declines and determine the contributing causes (see Commentary on Reported Mammal Declines ...).
  • The Burmese python may reach a length of 26 feet and a weight of more than 200 pounds. The largest Burmese python captured in the Everglades was 16 feet and 150 pounds. Its native habitat ranges from India to lower China, throughout the Malay Peninsula and on some islands in the East Indies. It usually lives near water
  • Although semi-aquatic, this snake is a good climber.
  • Pythons lay eggs, unlike boa constrictors. A female Burmese python may lay 50-100 eggs and will wrap its body around the clutch to keep it warm and to defend the eggs against predators. The female python can raise its temperature by rhythmically twitching muscles, which generates heat and helps incubate the eggs. This incubation process may last two to three months. Once the eggs are hatched, young pythons are on their own to survive.
  • The USGS and the Everglades National Park are investigating the behavior and biology of the Burmese python to get a better understanding of the snake's requirements for survival. Their findings also will assess the risk of invasion into other areas of the United States.

Fast Facts - Burmese pythons as pets in Florida

  • As a conditional reptile, Burmese pythons are no longer allowed to be acquired as a pet. Under the new rules, only properly licensed dealers, public exhibitors and researchers may acquire these animals. However, Burmese pythons that were already in personal possession as pets on or before July 1, 2010, may remain with their owners for the remainder of the snakes' lives. Owners of these 'grandfathered' pet Burmese pythons must maintain a valid Reptile of Concern license for these animals.
  • The Burmese python is commonly kept as a pet because it is more docile than other large nonnative constrictors.
  • There is a low risk of a human attack. Documented human attacks by pythons in the United States involve the snake's owner or immediate family.


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