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7 Largest Pythons Discovered in Florida 

Due to its subtropical climate, South Florida harbors many different types of invasive species. Most notable, are its invasive reptiles. Specifically, the Burmese python, a large snake from Southeast Asia has found a home in South Florida where it is thriving and unfortunately having huge impacts on the native ecosystem.

In this article, we will summarize some of the largest pythons captured in Florida.

Burmese pythons

Burmese pythons are incredibly large snakes, capable of growing over 20 feet long and several hundred pounds. These snakes are native to Southeast Asia and can be found in countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, parts of India, and Southern China. They are nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night. 

One thing that is interesting about Burmese pythons is that they exhibit sexual dimorphism, with females growing much larger than males. In fact, most, if not all of the pythons on this list were females. However, the average python captured in Florida is between 6 and 9 feet. 

Burmese Pythons in Florida

Burmese python on tree
A burmese python on tree | image by Everglades National Park via Flickr

Burmese pythons are considered invasive in the greater Florida Everglades Ecosystem. For a species to be classified as an invasive species, it must be reproducing naturally in the wild and having negative ecological and economical impacts. And Burmese pythons are certainly doing just that. 

Burmese pythons are single-handedly thought to be responsible for the population declines of small and medium-sized mammals. Not only that but these snakes have been found to bring over parasites and spread them to native reptiles in Florida. It is likely that they are also out-competing native wildlife for important resources like prey and habitat.

In addition to the ecological impacts, invasive pythons in Florida are costing the Florida government a lot of money! There is a tremendous amount of funding that goes into controlling and removing Burmese pythons from South Florida. Most notable are state agencies that pay dozens of python bounty hunters by the hour and by the python to remove these large snakes.

The removal of a large python can bring in several hundred dollars for the bounty hunter. Because of their adverse impacts, wildlife managers have encouraged the public, and those contracted to hunt pythons, to safely capture and humanely remove Burmese pythons when they encounter them.

Other pythons in Florida

Because of the climate in Florida, South Florida allows for non-native reptiles that are brought here in the pet trade to thrive. Unfortunately, when pet owners buy large snakes like pythons, they often do not have the space to care for them and release them or they may escape. With that said, there are many other species of boas or pythons that have been captured in Florida.

However, not all of these species are considered invasive yet as they are not known to reproduce in the wild of South Florida, yet. In addition to Burmese pythons, African Rock pythons and boa constrictors are also species of constrictors that are considered invasive species in Florida

The 7 biggest python captures in Florida 

1. The heaviest

Burmese pythons
Burmese pythons

Starting with the heaviest python ever captured in Florida, a 215 pound Burmese python was captured in Collier County, Florida by biologists that were radio-tracking a male Burmese python during the breeding season. This male led biologists right to the 18 foot, 215 pound female that was carrying 122 eggs! This capture happened in December 2021.

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2. The longest

The longest Burmese python that has been captured in Florida so far measured an impressive 18 feet and 9 inches. This snake was a large female, weighing 104 pounds.

She was captured along a canal on state lands, about 35 miles west of Miami in October 2020. It was two python contract hunters employed by state agencies that captured her.

3. The second longest

Burmese python in wetland
Burmese python in wetland | image by Rushen via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Before the 18 foot, 9 inch python mentioned previously, the longest python ever captured was an 18 foot 8 inch python, captured in 2013- holding the record for the longest python for seven years. This python was captured by a college student that was riding ATVs with a friend along rural roads in Homestead, Florida when they saw the snake’s head emerging from the bushes.

The college student grabbed the snake and struggled with it for some time before eventually killing it with a knife after the snake began to constrict around his body. This python was 128 pounds.

4. 17+ feet and a bonus!

A python contractor hunter captured not only an enormous Burmese python on a nightly survey in Big Cypress National Preserve, but also a nest of many unhatched eggs as well as several hatchling Burmese pythons. This contract hunter had just stumbled across a python nest that had 18 hatched eggs and 23 unhatched eggs and the 10 foot mother guarding these eggs.

Not far from there, he found yet another nest, but no mother python. He returned the next night and stumbled across a large 17 foot, 6 inch female Burmese python.

5. The once record breaking mother

Female Burmese python wrapped around its eggs
Female Burmese python wrapped around its eggs | image by Tigerpython via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 3.0

In August 2012, researchers with the United States Geological Survey captured a 17 foot, 7 inch female Burmese python within Everglades National Park. This large snake weighed in at just over 164 pounds. When researchers performed a necropsy on her, they found that she was carrying 87 eggs- which was a record at the time. 

6. When a python crosses the road

A college student and two friends were in shock when they found an enormous 17 foot, 10 inch python crossing a busy highway, US 41 in Collier County, Florida in August 2022. This snake weighed in at 104 pounds. The three friends spent over ten minutes trying to wrestle the snake which then died while trying to constrict them. 

7. The biggest African Rock python

African rock python basking
African rock python basking | image by Piers Richardson via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

While this python is certainly not the largest python captured in Florida, it is the largest African Rock python that has been captured. In January 2010, a team captured a 14 foot African Rock python, west of Miami.

African Rock pythons are not as numerous as Burmese pythons in South Florida and do not grow as large, but they are still a large apex predator that wildlife managers have continued to work towards containment and removal of this species in Florida. 

Samantha Smith B.S.

About Samantha Smith B.S.

Samantha is a wildlife biologist with degrees in animal behavior and environmental biology. Most of her work has been with reptiles, however she has also worked with birds and marine organisms as well. She enjoys hiking, snorkeling, and looking for wildlife.