3 Invasive Snakes In Florida

Burmese Python in a Tree
© Heiko Kiera/Shutterstock.com

Written by Hannah Ward

Updated: October 9, 2023

Share on:


Florida is known for its beautiful flora and fauna and is home to many rare and wonderful animals. One animal that is abundant in Florida is the snake. There are more than 50 species of them, but not all of them are native.  In fact, some of them are incredibly damaging to their habitats and to native wildlife – they are known as being invasive. There are five species of non-native snakes that are established in Florida, where three of them are invasive. The remaining two – Javan file snakes and Brahminy’s blindsnakes – are smaller and, although established, do not cause any harm. So join us as we discover the invasive snakes in Florida!

Boa Constrictor

Best Pet Snake option - boa constrictor

Boa constrictors are non-venomous snakes famous for their method of subduing prey.

©Natalia Kuzmina/Shutterstock.com

The first invasive snake on the list is the boa constrictor. Also known as the red-tailed boa or the common boa, this snake typically grows between 7 and 13 feet long. Boa constrictors have thick bodies which are dark brown and have an hourglass pattern on them. They are extremely adaptable and thrive in several different habitats. However, preferred habitats are forests, swamps, rivers, streams, and canals in areas where there is plenty of cover. Boa constrictors are excellent swimmers as well as capable climbers. As such many (or at least the smaller individuals) are often found in trees. They are relatively solitary snakes that usually only interact with others during mating season. Females give birth to live young between May and August which are between 10 and 18 inches long at birth.

The boa constrictor is a member of the family Boidae. While there are over 40 species of “boa” snakes in that same family, all of whom are constrictors, there is only one snake that goes by the name “boa constrictor.” Boa constrictors are native to South America and some islands in the Caribbean. They are considered “primitive snakes” because they have two lungs, both of which they use, and pelvic spurs, which are the remains of legs.

Boa constrictors were introduced to Florida in the 1960s and 1970s via the pet trade and are well established in the south. Despite being non-venomous, they have extremely sharp teeth and can bite when threatened. Boa constrictors kill by constriction. This involves wrapping their bodies around their prey after they have seized it with their teeth. Although it was originally thought that boa constrictors suffocate their prey, their prey actually dies as the intense pressure applied by the snake’s body cuts off the blood flow to the heart and the brain, causing unconsciousness and death. Boa constrictors eat a range of rodents, birds, and whatever mammals they can find within their habitat. In their native home, boa constrictors eat animals as large as monkeys. The main predators of boa constrictors in Florida are alligators, although some birds prey on juveniles.

African Rock Python

Biggest Snakes: The African Rock PythonBiggest Snakes: The African Rock Python

African rock pythons are so large that they have very few predators.


One of the two invasive pythons is the African rock python. Reaching between 10 and 16 feet, African rock pythons are one of the largest species of snake in the world. They have thick, heavy bodies and are typically brown with dark blotches down their bodies that are bordered with black. African rock pythons live in a wide range of habitats – including forests, grassland, swamps, lakes, and rivers. In Florida, they usually live in sawgrass prairies, wetlands, and around lakes. African rock pythons are oviparous which means that they lay eggs. Females lay between 20 and 100 eggs in a burrow or a cave. They remain coiled around the eggs to protect them for the 80 days they take to hatch – usually without eating.  Juveniles are 18 to 24 inches long when they hatch. The mother then remains with them for another two weeks for protection.

As their name suggests, African rock pythons are native to Africa. They are widespread across sub-Saharan Africa – including South Africa, Namibia, and Ethiopia.  They were introduced to Florida in 2002 via the pet trade either through escaped or released pets. African rock pythons have established healthy populations – particularly in South Florida and in the Florida Everglades. They are classed as being invasive because of their impact on native wildlife. Like boa constrictors, they are ambush predators and kill by constriction. African rock pythons in Florida eat a wide range of mammals and birds – anything they can catch they will consume, even large animals. Due to their large size, they have very few predators, with the only exception being alligators.

Burmese Python

Burmese Python in a Tree


pythons are incredibly invasive in Florida.

©Heiko Kiera/Shutterstock.com

Quite easily, the most invasive snake in Florida is the Burmese python from Southeast Asia. Burmese pythons regularly grow to around 16 feet long, although longer individuals have been reported. They are dark brown and have brown blotches down their sides. This means they are often mistaken for African rock pythons. Burmese pythons were introduced to Florida in 1979 due to the pet trade. Since then their population has increased and they have quickly become incredibly invasive. They typically live near permanent water sources. One of their favored habitats is wetland regions such as the Florida Everglades.

Burmese pythons eat a wide range of birds, mammals, and amphibians. The largest pythons eat whatever they can catch which is one of the reasons that they are so invasive. Burmese pythons regularly feed on Key Largo woodrats which are endangered as well as other native species which are all now in a serious decline as a direct result of being on their menu. This also means that other native species are now in direct competition for food against Burmese pythons and often cannot compete against them – leading to a further decline of native animals. Additionally, the presence of Burmese pythons in habitats means that native animals are competing against them for the same space. This along with the competition for food – means that native animals are not able to maintain their populations. Animals that have declined include raccoons, rabbits, foxes, and bobcats.

As Burmese pythons are such large, invasive snakes they have very few predators – with the exception of only alligators. The lack of predators means that their population can increase with relative ease. It also means that they are now one of the top predators in their locations.

Marsh Rabbit

Marsh rabbits are excellent swimmers but they were no match for the Burmese python.


Burmese Pythons Have Wiped out Some Species in the Everglades

Severe declines in native species have occurred in the Florida Everglades after the invasion of the Burmese python. In a recent study, populations of raccoons had dropped 99.3 percent, opossums, 98.9 percent, and bobcats 87.5 percent since 1997. Marsh rabbits, cottontails, and foxes are gone. The declining mammals are regularly found in the stomachs of pythons that are removed from Everglades Park.

Summary of 3 Invasive Snakes in Florida

RankSnakeYear Introduced to Florida
1Boa ConstrictorThe 1960s-70s
2African Rock Python2002
3Burmese Python1979

Boa Vs Python

Who would win in a fight if one of these voracious predators came up against the other? Well at a glance, pythons would be likely to win the day since they have a reputation for aggression.

Rock pythons in particular are more belligerent than their Burmese cousins. But the latter are no slouches either as evidenced by their penchant for snacking on alligators on occasion, just like their rocky relatives.

There’s also a size factor: pythons of both kinds can reach 16 feet (or more in the case of the Burmese), while boas generally grow to 13 feet at the most.

From the look of things, the larger reptiles would be likely to win the day, unless the boa in question is an adult and the python is a smaller juvenile.

Other Invasive Animals in Florida

While animals like pythons are often the ones grabbing headlines in the Sunshine State, there are plenty of other invasive species that have made their way to Florida over the years.

Some of the more destructive, invasive mammals that you will find in Florida are wild boars and black and brown rats. Not surprisingly, Florida is also now home to a large number of invasive reptiles and lizards, such as the bright Green Iguana. Because lizards like the Green Iguana can be unruly and hard to train, many Floridians who have tried to keep them as pets have ultimately released them into the wild — worsening the invasion.

Exotic Pet Ownership Green Iguana

Iguanas are not native to Florida and are considered an invasive species.

©David A Litman/Shutterstock.com

Other Reptiles Found in Florida

baby alligator and mother
Mother and baby alligators feel right at home in Florida.

Florida is home to a wide variety of reptiles. This includes snakes, lizards, turtles, and alligators. Some of the most popular species include the Florida king snake, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, southern black racer snake, green anole lizard, Florida box turtle, and American alligator.

Snakes are one of the most common reptile species found in Florida. The state has at least fifty varieties ranging from harmless garter snakes to venomous cottonmouths and coral snakes – though some may only be native to certain areas within the state. Gators can also be found in many bodies of water throughout Florida, including lakes and rivers, as well as swamps and marshes near coastal areas. They help keep populations of other animals, like fish, in check by preying on them for food.

Lizards such as skinks or geckos can often be spotted sunning themselves on rocks or logs during warm weather months, while others like chameleons remain hidden among foliage year-round, waiting for prey items like insects or small rodents that pass close by their hiding spots. Turtles are also very prevalent, with several different types swimming around ponds or basking on logs when temperatures allow it – they’re especially fond of areas with plenty of aquatic plants where they can hide from predators and search for food sources like algae or small crustaceans if needed.

Honorable Mention: Other Invasive Snakes in Florida

Green anaconda

Green Anacondas have been sighted in northern and southern regions of Florida, notably in the Everglades, which will pose a large problem to the native environment.


Not only are there several different species of invasive pythons and boa constrictors found in Florida, but there are also larger snakes as well like the anaconda. There are currently no reports of the anaconda reproducing, and they are not fully established but as they are found in the pet trade, should they be released, they can still be harmful to the area as they may eliminate native species which can change the environment. Here are a few additional non-native species that are found in Florida:

  • Yellow Anaconda (Eunectes notaeus) – this non-native species can grow between six to nine feet and although they are not known to be reproducing, there have been several reported sightings throughout Florida.
  • Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus) – this non-native species can grow between 3 to 15 feet and although they are not known to be reproducing, they have been sighted in specific areas of the state, from Southern Florida, in Miami-Dade County and the Everglades, to Northern Florida, in Alachua County. Due to increased sightings since 2000, there is concern that this will become another issue for the Everglades.
  • Dumeril’s Boa (Boa dumerili) – this non-native species can grow up to seven feet, although they may grow slightly larger but are never found to be longer than nine feet. They are most commonly kept as pets and as several have been found in the Southern Florida region, it is believed they may have been released or escaped from their homes.

Share this post on:
About the Author

Hannah is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on reptiles, marine life, mammals, and geography. Hannah has been writing and researching animals for four years alongside running her family farm. A resident of the UK, Hannah loves riding horses and creating short stories.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.