Invasion of the Giant Pythons
Audio: Python Stories

What is it like to work on the front lines of the invasive Burmese python problem? Listen to these python experts tell their stories in their own words.

Dr. Ron Rozar

Dr. Ron Rozar

Dr. Ron Rozar

Ron has spent 20 years working with snakes, both in the U.S. and abroad. Ron earned his Ph.D. from the University of Miami, Florida. Ron has worked with invasive brown tree snakes in Guam, and invasive large constrictors in South Florida. Ron is currently the Project Manager for the USGS Burmese Python Project in Key Largo, Florida, a post he has held since the project’s inception in January 2008.

Listen to Ron’s story below:

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Mike Rochford (foreground) with Dr. Skip Snow

Mike Rochford (foreground) with Skip Snow

Mike Rochford

Mike graduated from Kansas State University in 2004 with a B.S. in Biology. He spent almost all of the following year tracking rattlesnakes in Missouri. He came to Florida in early 2006 to begin work under Dr. Frank Mazzotti at the University of Florida, where he assists in research with alligators, crocodiles, and, of course, pythons. Mike’s duties include tracking the snakes, identifying their prey remains, keeping the data organized, and finding and removing as many pythons as possible.

Listen to Mike’s story below:

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  • mackare jones

    I am sure that you realize you can achieve eradication or near eradication if you are willing to spend a reasonable amount of money to place a bounty per snake for capture or kill. The way to organize and control this program would be to issue licenses to interested parties after they have been trained in identification and handling of these pythons. This bounty would have to be high enough to make it profitable for the individual or hunting party to earn a reasonable return on their time and effort. The buddy system is a good approach for the issuance of licenses because two people working together would be safer in case of attack by one of these snakes. In other words—one license per two people with the requirement that they work as a team. The government organization would earn part of their budget back through the issuance of license fees. What I have observed to this point of the effort to control this infestation is pointless. A few scientists in the field attempting to control this problem is a waste of time.

  • R Elizabeth

    While I understand your sentiments, it must be recognized that conservation efforts necessarily comprise far more than control or eradifiction of a given species. Education must play a key role. If irresponsible pet owners continue to release their unwanted burdons (whether they be dogs, cats, birds, rodents, or yes- snakes) our native populations will suffer. Providing hunting licenses may be one answer to an increasingly monolitic problem, but it will have no impact on the root causes on exotic species invasions and domestic pet neglect, nor will it foster a concern for nature, the environment, and a recognition of our individual roles in responsably correcting the problem. I realize many will not recognize the fact of God being the Creator of all living things, including Burmese pythons (which, by-the-way, are truely magnificent creatures). But for those who do, remember to appreciate His handywork and His mandate to Adam and us to have dominion (NOT domination) over every living thing. Among other responsibilities placed on man, man has a God given role in caring for His creation. Regardless of your recogniton of the Creator, each one of us ought to be personally involved in protecting and caring for nature. It is our God given responsibility.

  • Narayan Das Raman

    Please deport the pythons back to Burma.

  • Chris

    What we need are some really good python recepies. Maybee some Florida restauants could put them on the menu. Maybee one of those competitive cooking shows on cable could challenge a couple of chefs to do something creative. I would love to try some python jambalaya. Breaded and fried python sounds good. Python chile cook offs would be fun. Come on Florida, lets get cookin!!

  • Alex

    mackare jones: Unfortunately it takes a lot of time and gas money to find wild pythons, but Burmese pythons are available readily and cheaply in the pet trade. They breed well in captivity, and there is no easy way to tell where a Burmese python came from. If a bounty program is created, it will simply make these snakes more valuable, giving people an incentive to breed more of them and release more of them into the wild.

  • Nicholas

    I’m forced to disagree, Alex. If anything, bounties may work TOO well, and open up the risk of other species being sometimes killed by mistake. (Wolf/coyote poison, for example, frequently kills other animals, as well.) But the idea that hunting and bounties will actively increase populations flies in the face of historical precedent: bounties were precisely how wolves were eradicated through much of America, as well as some groups of humans! Meanwhile, other “economic incentives”,” in the form of market sales, likewise decimated/eliminated the buffalo and the passenger pigeon, among others. And that’s just in America!

    The program also points out that there are professional python-hunters already in business, often cooperating closely with the conservation programs. And there is no mention of these professionals somehow increasing python populations, much less encouraging breeding! to the contrary, people seem quite content to abandon these pets, once they learn how dangerous they are. I’m afraid that your logic simply isn’t supported by the evidence.

  • Dave

    There is enough preditors in southern Florida. I don’t believe either the eco-system or the human population need them endangering the habit or personalage. If they become a nuisence every effort should be made to repopulate them or destroy them.

  • frank

    I can rid florida of your pythons in 3 years time, Just repeat the dodo bird.

  • amartya

    While its clear that Burmese pythons have to be checked/eliminated from South FL, its unethical to kill other living creatures when man is the agent of their being here.

    The import of reptiles to the US should be banned. But does Uncle Sam have the cojones to take on the Pet Store lobby ?

  • Leroy Jackson

    I’m just worried that this large snake will start killing humans on a large count. Ireally wouldn’t want to run into one.

  • Judy Radek

    Why not regulate the sale of Burmese pythons, reticulated pythons and anacondas in the pet stores? (Anacondas and retics will be the next big problem, if they aren’t already.) I used to raise and sell boas in Florida, and realize that feeding and caging the even larger snakes becomes expensive and problematic in 2-3 years. I loved a TV show I viewed on a pet store in England that SHOWS (& tells about) the FULL-GROWN animal before people make a buying decision. Would that we had such a responsible attitude!

  • John

    Just a few clarifications on comments made from an inside view. The state tried the hunter/licensing program to bring in Burms. It did not work. Not 1 animal was brought in. The reason? These animals are VERY cryptic and hard to find outside of the roadside “low hanging fruit”. People that spend their life and profession doing this even have the most difficult of times finding the Burms and this includes those that have radio transmitters in them. You could be standing on top of one and not know it. Hunting them on a bounty and eradicating them like the Dodo and wolves/coyotes? Please! These are not animals that are out in the open waiting to be shot. Their life is spent waiting to ambush a prey and that’s not done by cruising across and open field or sky. All those yahoo’s that think “hey let me take my huntin’ dog and gun out and I’ll get rid of them” should spend days on end searching for them with professionals to see how incredibly difficult a task it is, which is why there are still thousands out there. Education and funding of research to find new methodologies for getting these guys are the only approaches that will work. Not even “His” techniques in “creation” will work in eradicating these things, that is unless you want to attribute the severe cold weather this year that killed many to “His” handy work.

  • Gordon Johnson

    I thoroughly endorse the bounty approach as the only reasonable way to deal with this problem. Education may also be necessary and better control of those who import and sell exotic, non-indigenous animals. At present, it appears that the powers that be are willing to let the pythons destroy all the native species. We should spend the money currently being used for scientific studies to eradicate this pest. Can’t the hides be used for shoes, boots, purses, etc.

  • Lindy Smith

    I jsut wantto see it, how do I find when it will be on? We saw the end this morning Sunday, Novv 7 at 1 am, now we want tot see the rest?

  • Kelsey .F

    I have a question. How can we help to get rid of the snakes,pigs,and other pests that can indanger all the people in the state of Florida even though we are in other states? I would like to help even though im 12. Please write back.

  • Joel

    The Burmese pythons need to go back to there homes and live use alone and live the animals alone

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