News Releases

Northern African pythons targeted for removal

News Release

Monday, January 26, 2015

Media contact: Liz Barraco, 850-556-2269; Carli Segelson, 727-224-9674

This winter, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and partners are continuing increased efforts to locate and remove invasive, nonnative Northern African pythons in south Florida to take advantage of the weather and the snake’s limited distribution.

“Unlike the Burmese python in Florida, the Northern African python population is thought to be confined to a small area in a single county,” said FWC biologist Jenny Ketterlin Eckles. “Focused efforts by the FWC and partners to locate and remove these invasive snakes could prevent the spread of this species into natural areas and inform management actions to address the Burmese python population.”

The FWC and its state and federal partners are also coordinating surveys to take advantage of weather conditions that increase the likelihood of finding snakes.

“Snakes often bask in open areas on sunny days during cool winter weather,” said Eckles.

The Northern African python (also called an African rock or rock python) has been documented living in the Bird Drive Recharge Area, which covers approximately 6 square miles in western Miami-Dade County. In Florida, the average size of these found pythons is 10 feet in length posing a threat to native wildlife. They can grow up to 20 feet in length in their native range. The species is a nonvenomous constrictor snake native to Africa.

Even though Northern African pythons have not been documented within Everglades National Park, park biologists are participating in an effort to help prevent these snakes from expanding their range onto park property. Additionally, participants will survey land parcels that have not yet been searched and increase canvassing and outreach to residents and landowners in the area.

The FWC’s partners are the South Florida Water Management District, National Park Service, Miami-Dade County, University of Florida, United States Geological Survey, Everglades Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The public can help too. How?

  • Immediately report any sightings of live Northern African pythons to the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Venom Unit: 786-331-4454. For your safety, do not attempt to handle the snake yourself and, if possible to do so safely, photograph the snake.
  • Report past sightings, road kill, shed skins and other remains of Northern African pythons to Ivegot1.org.
  • If you own land in the identified area where this species lives, allow wildlife managers to search for pythons on your property.
  • Deter pythons from your property by cutting back vegetation, clearing debris and securing small pets.

The first sighting of this species was documented in 2001. Surveillance and removal has been underway since 2009. The FWC listed the Northern and Southern African pythons as conditional species in 2010, with the result that an individual can no longer acquire these species in the state for personal use. In 2012, The USFWS listed the Northern African python as an injurious reptile species and federal law now prohibits its transport across state borders and importation into the country without a permit.

While Northern African pythons are very similar in appearance to Burmese pythons, the skin pattern on their backs is less defined. Additionally, the belly scales of a Northern African python are a pattern of black and white markings, while those of the Burmese python are white.

To learn more about the Northern African python, go to MyFWC.com/Nonnatives then select “Reptiles” and look under “Snakes.”

Learn more about the FWC’s efforts to manage and minimize the impacts of nonnative species on Florida’s fish, wildlife and marine life at MyFWC.com/Nonnatives.



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