In this extraordinary clip, we see a massive Burmese python that was caught by the side of a Florida highway. Despite the fact that the enormous snake tried to adopt a ‘pretzel’ shape, the intrepid snake catchers managed to secure it. The snakes use this twisting shape as a defense mechanism – it makes them difficult to pick up. This monster was at least six feet in length and had no intention of coming quietly!
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Where Do Burmese Pythons Normally Live?
Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) are one of the largest species of snakes in the world. They are a native species of large areas of Southeast Asia and until 2009 they were considered as a subspecies of Python molurus. Now, however, they are recognized as a distinct species. Their native habitat includes eastern India, southeastern Bangladesh, southern China, and Thailand. Sadly, their numbers in these areas are decreasing.
Their habitat consists of jungles and grassy marshes. They can be spotted in grasslands, swamps, rocky foothills, woodlands, and river valleys. These snakes are excellent swimmers and need to live near water. They are able to stay in water for 30 minutes. When they live in the wild, they can reach lengths of around 16 feet but there are unconfirmed reports of them reaching over 20 feet.
How Did Burmese Pythons Get to Florida?
There is now a breeding population of non-native Burmese pythons in south Florida. The ecosystems around the Everglades National Park provide exactly the right habitat for them. There is also an abundant supply of mammals, birds, and other reptiles for them to feed on. Sadly, this means that many native species populations have been severely damaged. One study found that the population of raccoons has dropped by 99.3 percent. Similarly, the population of opossums has dropped by 98.9 percent.
The ancestors of these snakes were discarded pets. Unfortunately, people took on Burmese pythons without realizing just how large they could grow. When the snakes reached adulthood, irresponsible owners released them into the wild.
Are Burmese Pythons Dangerous to Humans?
It looked as if this snake was getting ready to bite to defend itself and this is not unusual for Burmese pythons. Smaller snakes are generally not dangerous, but the larger individuals have large and sharp teeth which can cause severe lacerations. Burmese pythons are not venomous.
These are a constrictor snake which means that they kill their prey by wrapping their bodies around it and crushing it. They are large and powerful snakes and in theory, they could crush a human’s body. However, all of the recorded constrictor snake fatalities in the US have been captive snakes and occurred when the owners were purposely interacting with their pet. Deaths of small children and infants in homes where snakes are kept as pets have also been recorded. To date, there have been no human deaths caused by wild-living Burmese pythons in Florida. However, this cannot be completely ruled out in the future.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © dwi putra stock/Shutterstock.com
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