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Publication #WEC288

Florida Invader: Burmese Python1

Steve Johnson and Monica McGarrity2

This fact sheet is best viewed as a pdf, available here: edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/UW/UW33300.pdf.

Figure 1. 

Burmese python (Python molurus) Credits: Patrick Lynch, South Florida Water Management District, 2009


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Report Burmese python sightings immediately:

1-888-IveGot1 (1-888-483-4681; live animals only)

www.IveGot1.org (provide photos if possible)

The Burmese python (Python molurus), native to Southeast Asia, is established and breeding in Florida and Puerto Rico. This large, nocturnal predator may grow to more than 20 feet long and kills its prey by constriction. In Florida, Burmese Pythons are known to prey on more than 20 species of native mammals, birds, and reptiles, including imperiled species such as wood storks, Key Largo woodrats, and limpkins. Their prey includes large species such as white-tailed deer, american alligators, and bobcats, and it is feared that endangered species such as Florida panthers could also be at risk. Evidence supports the suspicion that Burmese pythons have caused the decline of several species of mammals in Everglades National Park. The pythons inhabit marshy lowlands and drier upland habitats and can travel more than 40 miles in a season. Females can breed at four years of age and lay up to 100 eggs (usually 1–3 dozen). Lifespan is 15–25 years. Although Burmese pythons generally shy away from humans, these large constrictors are a potential threat, especially if handled or harassed.

Figure 2. 

The Burmese python's head is marked with a dark arrowhead, fading toward the snout, with a light line down the center. There are dark and light wedge-shaped marks under each eye. Credits: Photo by Patrick Lynch, South Florida Water Management District, 2009; Illustration by United States Geological Survey, 2009


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Figure 3. 

The Burmese python's body is tan with large, dark brown "giraffe spots" down the back and sides. The dark spots on the back usually do not connect. Credits: Photo by Patrick Lynch, South Florida Water Management District, 2009; Illustration by Monica E. McGarrity, University of Florida, 2010


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Figure 4. 

Juvenile Burmese pythons look nearly identical to adults. Credits: Lori Oberhofer, National Park Service, 2009


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Identification

Learn to identify and report pythons at http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/reddy.shtml.

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 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 WEC288, one of a series of the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date August 2010; revised February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Steve A. Johnson, associate professor and Extension specialist, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611; and Monica McGarrity, extension program assistant, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

This fact sheet 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. Photos/Illustrations by: USGS, Monica McGarrity (UF), Patrick Lynch (SFWMD), Lori Oberhofer (NPS), and Skip Snow (NPS).


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.