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Burmese Python

Python molurus bivittatus

Regulatory Status

Burmese pythons are not native to Florida and are considered an invasive species due to their impacts to native wildlife.  Like all nonnative reptile species, Burmese pythons are not protected in Florida except by anti-cruelty law and can be humanely killed on private property with landowner permission. This species can be captured and humanely killed year-round and without a permit or hunting license on 25 public lands in south Florida.

NEW!! Effective April 29, 2021

Burmese pythons will be added to Florida’s Prohibited species list.  Learn more about the rule changes for this species.

In addition, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) lists Burmese pythons as an Injurious Species under the Lacey Act, preventing the importation of these constrictor snakes into the United States.

Description

Burmese python slithering in the grass

The Burmese python is one of the largest snakes in the world.  Adult Burmese pythons caught in Florida average between 1.8 m (6 ft) and 2.7 m (9 ft); the largest Burmese captured in Florida measured over 5.4 m (18 ft) in length.

Burmese pythons are tan in color with dark blotches along the back and sides. The blotches look like puzzle pieces or the markings on a giraffe. They have a pyramid-shaped head with a dark, arrowhead-shaped wedge extending toward the nose.

Burmese pythons are semi-aquatic and are often found near or in water. They are excellent climbers and can be seen in trees.

 

Diet

In Florida, Burmese pythons have been found to prey upon a variety of mammals, birds and even alligators.

Native Range

India, lower China, the Malay Peninsula and some islands of the East Indies.

Florida Distribution

A population of Burmese pythons is established in South Florida. Historically, the python population was centered within Everglades National Park in Miami-Dade County. Recent data indicate that the population is expanding to the north and west. Individuals have been found in southwest Florida in Naples and near Lake Okeechobee. Python observations outside of south and southwest Florida are likely escaped or released pets.

Potential Impacts

Because of their large size, adult Burmese pythons have few predators, with alligators and humans being the exceptions. They prey upon native species and may reduce their populations locally. Research is underway to ascertain the impacts pythons have on native mammal species. While pythons will eat common native species and exotic species such as Norway rats, they can also consume threatened or endangered native species. For instance, pythons have been known to eat endangered Key Largo wood rats. 

Burmese pythons can pose a threat to human safety. Pythons may also prey upon pets such as cats and dogs. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I see a Burmese python?

Report Burmese pythons to the FWC immediately! If you think you see a Burmese python, take a photo, note your location and report your sighting by calling the Exotic Species Hotline at 888-Ive-Got1 (888-483-4681), using the free IveGot1 mobile app or online at IveGot1.org.

How is the FWC managing this species?

Python control and management is a high priority for the FWC. The agency and partners are taking a multifaceted approach, focusing on removal and community engagement. This approach includes:

The FWC takes actions to reduce regulatory barriers to nonnative reptile removal and encourages their harvest from privately owned properties and FWC managed lands. 

The FWC issued an Executive Order (EO-2017) allowing for take of any nonnative reptile, year-round, within 25 managed lands in the FWC’s South Region.

What if I own a Burmese python I can no longer care for?

Released pets remain a primary source of introduced species in Florida. Through the Exotic Pet Amnesty Program, pet owners who are either unable to care for their exotic pets or who no longer wish to keep them can surrender them with no questions asked and without penalties, regardless of whether those pets are kept legally or illegally. The program helps reduce the number of nonnative species being released into the wild by pet owners and fosters responsible pet ownership.