News Releases

Microchip in large python identifies owner

News Release

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Media contact: Gary Morse, 863-227-3830

An electronic scan detected a required microchip identification tag in a 14-foot, 6-inch African rock python discovered Jan. 27 sunning itself in a wooded area near a Tarpon Springs apartment complex. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), which has strict regulations for the care and ownership of this nonnative species, said the chip revealed the snake belongs to Scott Konger, owner of Tarpon Springs Aquarium.

Konger, who had a permit to own the snake, reported the snake stolen in 2009 from his business at the Tarpon Springs sponge docks.

"When the snake was reported stolen, Mr. Konger was in compliance with all requirements of ownership, and there were no indications that he violated Florida law. As a result, no citations have been issued to Mr. Konger in this the case," said Lt. Steve DeLacure, the FWC's lead investigator in the case.

According to FWC records, Konger does not currently have a valid permit for the snake, but he may reapply for a permit. For the time being, the snake will remain at the permitted facility where it is currently being housed.

The African rock python species - Northern African and Southern African - are two of eight species of lizards and snakes classified as "conditional species," with stringent requirements for ownership. In addition to the required microchip, commonly called a "PIT tag," FWC-permitted owners are required to have cages that meet specific size, design, locking and safety standards; have a critical incident plan for emergencies; and report escapes.

In the wild, Northern and Southern African pythons (rock pythons) are a threat to pets and wildlife, but they generally avoid humans.

Anyone having information regarding the theft of this animal can report it to the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. Citizens who report violations of wildlife laws can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward if the information leads to an arrest.

If you would like more information on conditional species, visit MyFWC.com/Nonnatives.



FWC Facts:
The horse conch (Pleuroploca gigantea) is Florida's official state shell. It is a predator that grabs other snails and inserts its toothed tongue to devour soft flesh.

Learn More at AskFWC