The state of Florida is home to 46 species of snakes, making it one of the most snake-infested states in the US. Snakes are mostly found in its freshwater wetlands, coastal mangroves, dry uplands, and even residential areas. While Florida has a lot of native snake species, some species found in the state are invasive or non-native species.
Florida has the worst invasive reptile and amphibian species problem in the world. In 2011, research scientists showed that Florida is home to 140 non-native reptiles and amphibians. This is the direct result of snake owners releasing their pets into the wild or snakes escaping. It is estimated that pet trade is responsible for 85% of invasive species in the state. This article takes a look at the largest snake species in Florida, invasive species, and what one has to do with the other.
Florida’s Burmese Pythons
The largest species of snake found in Florida is the Burmese python. Burmese pythons are one of the largest snake species in the world. These nonvenomous constrictors can be identified by their tan bodies and dark spots that are similar to those seen on giraffes. As babies, Burmese pythons are 2 feet long!
The only problem with this is that Burmese pythons are not native to Florida. These snakes are one of the deadliest predators in the wild. They are known to attack really large animals and few can fight back. In 2005, a 13-foot Burmese python went after an adult alligator and regretted it.
The alligator was six-foot, just about half the python’s length and yet, it didn’t seem to go down without a fight. Both carcasses were found floating in the water. The alligator’s head, shoulders, and forelimbs were still enclosed in the lower part of the snake’s body but the snake had been torn right open in the mid-section. This was where the alligator’s lower limbs and tail were sticking out from.
In the state of Florida, there are quite a number of Burmese python specimens that have been recorded as the “largest Burmese python in Florida.” It isn’t a surprise that Florida sees a lot of Burmese pythons that grow to unbelievable lengths. When species invade other locations, there is a large possibility that the new habitat will not have adequate predators for their species.
This will allow them to grow to greater sizes and to disproportionate numbers, which will harm and slowly eliminate the location’s existing species. This article investigates four records of the largest Burmese python to discover which specimen is actually the largest Burmese python in Florida.
Top 4 Largest Burmese Pythons Discovered in Florida
We’ve rounded up the 4 largest specimens on record. Let’s dive right in.
On the 2nd of October 2018, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) & Python Action Team Removing Invasive Constrictors (PATRIC) made a record discovery which they posted on Twitter. Both teams were working in a joint effort to rid Florida Everglades of invasive pythons.
During the operation, three agents; Ron DeSantis, Ryan Ausburn, and Kevin Pavlidis, discovered an 18-feet, 9-inch Burmese python that weighed an amazing 104 pounds! The female specimen was marked as a record find. Capturing and killing her was a record feat and a big win for Florida’s ecosystem.
Southeast Miami-Dade County
In 2013, Jason Leon from Miami and some friends were driving through a rural area of southeast Miami-Dade County when they spotted an 18-feet, 8-inches long snake. It turned out to be a Burmese python that weighed 128 pounds.
When Leon spotted the snake, he stopped the car and grabbed it behind its head. According to the Florida Times, Leon knew how to handle snakes because he had once owned a Burmese python. As he began to drag it into the open, the snake began to attempt to wrap its tail around Leon. This was when he called for help and with his friends’ assistance, the snake was killed.
Everglades National Park, Florida
In August 2012, Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey in Florida captured a 17-foot-7-inch-long Burmese python. The specimen weighed 164.5 pounds. It was discovered that the snake was a female, but even more spectacularly, she was discovered to be carrying 87 eggs.
The specimen was taken to the Florida Museum of Natural History where she was studied by the U.S. Department of the Interior to aid in research for methods of managing the state’s invasive Burmese python problem. In a similar research examination carried out between 2003 to 2005, scientists captured 343 Burmese pythons in Everglades National Park.
Hardy County, Zolfo Springs, Florida
In February 2021, two cousins living in Zolfo Spring, Florida made an incredible find which was reported by many news outlets including Fox 13 Tampa Bay News. The python measured 16-feet, 4- inches, and weighed 300 pounds! It was discovered in Hardee County, along Parnell Road.
Capturing this snake wasn’t a walk in the park, according to the cousins, Aaron Brown and William Wilkinson. The snake put up quite a fight but they were relentless. When the snake was taken in and examined, it was discovered that she was pregnant with 100 eggs.
What is the Largest Snake Discovered in Florida?
The answer to this question depends on what you considered as the deciding factor – length or weight. The longest snake discovered in Florida was the 18-foot, 9-inch Burmese python discovered in Everglades, Florida. It weighed 104 pounds! However, the largest or heaviest snake was discovered in Zolfo Springs, Florida. It weighed 300-pounds but was only 16-feet and 4- inches long.
How Large Can Burmese Pythons Grow?
Burmese pythons can grow as long as 23 feet. Like a lot of pythons, they are nonvenomous constrictors.
What Should You Do If You Spot an Invasive Snake Species in Florida?
If you spot an invasive snake species, do not attempt to kill or capture it if you are inexperienced and untrained. Instead, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
Discover the "Monster" Snake 5X Bigger than an Anaconda
Every day A-Z Animals sends out some of the most incredible facts in the world from our free newsletter. Want to discover the 10 most beautiful snakes in the world, a "snake island" where you're never more than 3 feet from danger, or a "monster" snake 5X larger than an anaconda? Then sign up right now and you'll start receiving our daily newsletter absolutely free.