Burmese Python

Python molurus bivittatus

The Basics

Common Name: Burmese Python

Scientific Name: Python molurus bivittatus

Length: 11-23 feet
Weight: Up to 200 lbs
Life Expectancy: 20-30 years

How Does The Burmese python interact with other organisms in its environment? What is its niche?

In the Burmese Python's natural habitat it acts as a secondary/tertiary consumer, depending on how old it is. Smaller pythons feed on small mammals, birds, and reptiles while larger specimens have been known to feed on pigs or goats. In the Florida Everglades they have been known to eat deer and alligators.

The Burmese python's niche is that when they are first born they are preyed upon by secondary consumers but as they grow larger they move up in the food web. They help maintain the population of rodents and other pests.

Why is the Burmese python invasive?

The Burmese Python is invasive because it was introduced to the Florida Everglades by either escaping a breeding facility during Hurricane Andrew or by negligent owners. Because of the similarity between the Florida Everglades and its native environment in India the Burmese python has continued to survive and compete with the other predators such as alligators and cougars for food sources.

How did it become invasive? How did the carrying capacity of its environment change? How many are there compared to previous numbers?

The Burmese Python became invasive when captive pythons escaped during Hurricane Andrew in 1992. It is also possible that owners who were unwilling to take care of their quickly growing pet may have release their pets into the wild instead of taking them to a reptile rescue.
The carrying capacity of its environment decreased because Burmese pythons compete with other top predators such as alligators for similar food sources.
Before the 20th century, the pythons weren't recognized as a breeding population. The number of Burmese Pythons in Florida today is uncertain. Some say as low as two thousand and some say as high as hundred of thousands.

What is the future prognosis?

The Burmese Python population in Southern Florida is predicted to continue to grow. It may spread to some of the warmer, wetter parts of Florida similar to the Everglades but will never be able to move north because it is not used to the cold U.S. winters.

How can humans help? Call to Action?

Humans can help by reporting sights of Burmese pythons to Florida Wildlife Commission. They can also assist by volunteering their time and going on Python Patrols. People search for pythons and when they find them they capture and remove the species.

Humans can also assist by doing hours upon hours of research before buying an exotic species. Many Burmese pythons are released into the wild because owners buy the snakes without knowing that they will grow to be over 10 feet long and feed on large rats, rabbits, and chickens. If owners are unable to take care of their pet, they can also contact local reptile rescues and adopt their snake out to them rather than releasing them into the wild.

Albino Burmese Python opens door.