Quick Reference Guide: Introduced Constrictors in Florida1

Steve A. Johnson and Monica E. McGarrity 2

Three non-native species of large constrictor snakes are now breeding in Florida, and several others have been encountered but have not yet established wild populations. This fact sheet, best viewed as a pdf (https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/UW/UW34700.pdf), is a quick reference guide to identification of the constrictors you are most likely to encounter in Florida. Although many of these snakes are not established in the wild, they are common in the pet trade, and each has been spotted in the wild—it is likely that these were escaped or released pets. View maps of locations where each species has been encountered in Florida by visiting the EDDMapS Florida invasive species reporting portal online at http://www.IveGot1.org. Learn more about how to scan for, recognize, and report introduced constrictors by completing the Introduced Reptile Early Detection and Documentation training course. Visit http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/reddy.shtml to learn more and get REDDy!

Pythons

Burmese Python (Python bivittatus)

Status: established, breeding populations; range expanding in Florida

Size: up to 12 feet or longer

Head: dark arrowhead, light center line, dark and light wedges under eyes

Body: Giraffe-like spots, dark blotches not connected

Figure 1. Burmese python.
Figure 1.  Burmese python.
Credit: Head illustration by USGS; body illustration by Monica E. McGarrity, UF

Northern African Python (Python sebae)

Status: potentially breeding near Miami, not yet considered beyond eradication

Size: up to 12 feet or longer

Head: dark arrowhead with light center line, dark and light wedges under eyes

Body: irregular dark blotches, blotches on back connected

Figure 2. African python.
Figure 2.  African python.
Credit: USGS; body illustration by Monica E. McGarrity, UF

Reticulated Python (Malayopython reticulatus)

Status: individual sightings only

Size: up to 12 feet or longer

Head: light-colored with dark center line, thin dark eye stripe, reddish eyes

Body: dark net-like pattern accented with white and yellow

Figure 3. Reticulated python.
Figure 3.  Reticulated python.
Credit: Head illustration by USGS; body illustration by Monica E. McGarrity, UF

Ball Python (Python regius)

Status: individual sightings only; common in pet trade

Size: usually 4 feet or shorter

Head: dark arrowhead, tan facial bands

Body: rounded tan blotches on dark background

Figure 4. Ball python.
Figure 4.  Ball python.
Credit: Head and body illustrations by Monica E. McGarrity, UF

Anacondas

Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus)

Status: individual sightings only

Size: up to 12 feet or longer

Head: top unmarked, obvious paired light and dark eye stripes

Body: large, round black spots on greenish body, spots on lower sides have orange centers

Figure 5. Green anaconda.
Figure 5.  Green anaconda.
Credit: Head illustration by USGS; body illustration by Monica E. McGarrity, UF

Yellow Anaconda (Eunectes notaeus)

Status: individual sightings only

Size: up to 12 feet or longer

Head: five dark, lengthwise stripes on yellowish head

Body: dark blotches on yellow back, smaller blotches on sides

Figure 6. Yellow anaconda.
Figure 6.  Yellow anaconda.
Credit: Head illustration by USGS; body illustration by Monica E. McGarrity, UF

Other Constrictors

Common or Red-Tailed Boa (Boa constrictor)

Status: one breeding population in Miami; individual sightings elsewhere

Size: usually less than 10 feet long

Head: light-colored with dark center line, bold dark eye stripe

Body: large, tan ovals on back, large, reddish ovals on tail

Figure 7. Common or red-tailed boa.
Figure 7.  Common or red-tailed boa.
Credit: Head illustration by USGS; body illustration by Monica E. McGarrity, UF

Acknowledgments

This project was made possible in part by a grant from the South Florida National Parks Trust and the Ferris Greeney Family Foundation, and by the USDA-RREA. This document was originally created as additional reference material for the Introduced Reptile Early Detection and Documentation training program, also known as REDDy. For more information, visit http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/reddy.shtml.

Footnotes

1. This document is WEC302, one of a series of the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 2010. Revised February 2014 and June 2017. Reviewed July 2020. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication.
2. Steve A. Johnson, associate professor and Extension specialist; and Monica McGarrity, Extension program assistant; Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.