Northern African Python

Python sebae

Northern African pythons are a conditional species in Florida (68-5.002, Florida Administrative Code).

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Description

The Northern African python is a large, non-venomous species of constrictor snake. The average size found in Florida is close to ten feet, but the can grow up to 20 feet long in their native range in Africa. While very similar in appearance to the Burmese python, the pattern on the back of the Northern African python is less defined. In addition, their belly scales are a pattern of black and white markings, while those of the Burmese python are white.

Northern African pythons can be found in a wide variety of habitats, from semi-arid areas to swamps. In their native range, they are particularly suited for existence in agricultural areas and other areas modified by humans, such as canals, farm fields and towns.

Along with the Burmese python, yellow anaconda and the Southern African python, the Northern African python is federally listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an Injurious Species under the Lacey Act. This listing prevents the importation of these constrictor snakes into the United States. The Northern African python is also listed as a conditional species in Florida and cannot be acquired as a pet in the state.

Native range

Sub-Saharan Africa

Florida distribution

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Most sightings have been limited to the Bird Drive Recharge Area, an approximately 6-square-mile area in western Miami-Dade County.

History of introduction and management

Northern African python sightings were first noted in 2001. These animals were likely escaped or released pets. It is unknown how often successful reproduction has occurred. Surveillance and removal efforts started in 2009, after multiple snakes were found. In January 2010, a multi-agency team captured a Northern African python that was 14 feet long, the largest ever found in Florida. The current population is likely limited to a 6-square-mile area. Current and future actions focus on educating the public to report sightings and eradication of the species through survey and removal efforts.

Diet

Northern African pythons feed on mammals, birds, reptiles and fish. In their native range in Africa, adults may prey on large animals such as crocodiles and antelopes.

Concerns

Because of its large size, adult Northern African pythons living in Florida have few predators, with alligators and humans being the exceptions. While they may prey upon other nonnative species, they also prey upon native species and may reduce their populations locally.

Wild pythons generally do not attack humans unprovoked and attacks on domestic pets from pythons in Florida are rare. However, as sizable predators, they are capable of preying upon larger animals, such as cats and dogs. Adult supervision of small children and pets is recommended when outside in the areas where these snakes are known to occur.

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