Invasion of the Giant Pythons
Herpetologist Shawn Heflick Answers Your Questions

Herpetologist Shawn Heflick

Herpetologist Shawn Heflick

Herpetologist Shawn Heflick, featured in Invasion of the Giant Pythons, is President of the Central Florida Herpetological Society. He has a permit to hunt down Burmese pythons in the Everglades, and he’ll be out in the field doing just that the weekend our program premieres.

Submit your questions for Shawn Heflick in the comments field below, and he’ll respond to them during the week of February 22.

Dr. Wyman asks:

What is your opinion of the USGS report and its prediction of the spread of these animals?

Shawn says:

Scientifically, I think the USGS report should have undergone a more stringent peer review process before being released. Issues with the use of data from the Indian python instead of the Burmese python, and speculative global climate change models would surely have raised red flags with colleagues in the peer review process. The recent cold snap in south Florida is also yielding interesting data, which includes many deaths within this wild Burmese population that would seem to refute the USGS report.

Teresa asks:

I’ve heard that it’s possible that there are tens of thousands of pythons in the Everglades. Do you think that this number is accurate? Is it an exaggeration, or are there really that many pythons in the Everglades?

Shawn says:

From being on the ground and in the field with these animals, myself and others believe that the true number is closer to between 5,000 to 10,000 animals. The 100,000 plus numbers are inflated and sensationalized by politicians and some of the local media, but no one has the real answer to exactly how many are out there.

Rebecca asks:

Is there any genetic evidence that the pythons in the Everglades are from diverse stock, as would be expected if the pythons are largely released/escaped pets? I’ve heard some say that many of the pythons are escaped from a military operation and that they are closely related genetically. Can you “shed” any light on this topic? Thanks.

Shawn says:

Hey Rebecca. There is very little genetic variation within this wild population. The genetic study done on this population suggests that the population stems from the Hurricane Andrew devastation in 1992. At least one facility had over 900 Burmese pythons at the time and was destroyed completely. This facility was within just a mile or so of what is believed to be the epicenter of the population, and it possessed animals from the same genetic origin. Since 1992 the FWC has put into place more stringent regulations on housing, disaster protocols and bio security in general.

Nancy asks:

Please tell me these snakes froze this winter!!!

Shawn says:

We are seeing a number of dead and dying pythons from the freeze. The data is still being collected, but it does appear that a large number have succumbed to the prolonged and severe cold. I think we will see a decreased breeding event for 2010 from this severe winter.

Douglas Bellizzi asks:

It’s not just the ecosystem. What about the danger to the human population? These animals are dangerous and they are stealthy. When it comes to the safety of human beings, there can be no apologia whatever for these animals.

Shawn says:

Hey Douglas. The human safety factor is NOT an issue with this wild population. Not one human has been attacked or injured from one of these wild pythons and they are not prone to attack humans unless molested or grabbed. You are much more likely to be bitten by your own pet dog, get into a car accident or struck by lightning.

Suzanne asks:

Would these snakes ever attack a person in the open? Do these snakes enter residential areas in search of food or warmth? And is there something they don’t like or stay away from that someone could carry, in case of a run-in with a python?

Shawn says:

Hey Suzanne. These wild pythons have not attacked humans and are NOT a public safety issue. They may venture into rural or suburban areas, but are quickly spotted, run over on roads or captured. The best thing to carry is common sense… stay away from one if you see it and call FWC or your local police department.

Nathan B asks:

What, in your opinion, is the most effective solution to address this South Florida issue? There have been a number of solutions posed that failed to take into account the limited scale of the issue and attempted instead to make it a national issue. HR669, S373, and the Injurious Species Provisions of the Lacey Act penalize responsible owners and breeders of constrictor snakes across the other 49 states where the potential for survivability of these snakes in the wild is absolutely nil. Eliminating these animals from the pet trade does not address the established population in the far south of Florida and only harms the responsible keepers and small businesses that make up the captive-bred reptile industry.

Shawn says:

Good questions, Nathan. FWC has already implemented serious regulations over the last several years which have worked! The numbers of large pythons in the pet trade is now almost non-existent and the vast majority of people who still own them are permitted, responsible, educated people who are helping FWC with the problems through their 24/7 Amnesty Program. A BAN is NOT the answer. Historically bans do not work. They simply force things underground. Many of my biologist peers with whom I have spoken agree that a ban will cause massive problems for the state of Florida and the U.S. It will create a black market, force real releases of “now worthless or illegal” animals and create an atmosphere of distrust with the government. Regulations are the way to proceed, because they still give wildlife agencies the ability to keep tabs and regulate the animals.

Tony F. asks:

Why must the pythons be destroyed? Why not capture and relocate them to their natural habitat like some other wildlife programs out there? It’s understandable people may not want them there, especially if they are not native to the land, but must they really be destroyed? I personally love pythons. I prefer ball pythons since they stay relatively small though. I had a Burmese before but it died due to illness. I would just hope people could find a better solution rather than eradication. Education would be a start. If the cause of them being there is due to people “dumping them off” when they are no longer wanted or get too big, the problem will never be fixed until people learn not to dump them there in the first place. Owning a Burmese or any other large snake is just like owning any other pet. Do your research and use some common sense before purchasing one.

Shawn says:

I truly enjoy these animals as well, Tony, but you cannot relocate animals back into Southeast Asia due to disease concerns and the massive monetary costs involved. And you are right about people educating themselves before they make a purchase… no matter whether it is a dog, cat, fish, bird or reptile!

Matt asks:

Don’t all tropical wetlands except the Everglades have large constrictors and crocodilians present? What extended effect would large constrictors have on the Everglades in the long run, considering the skin trade and tourist dollars? What effect did the hard freeze have on the Asian and South American feral animals in South Florida, considering the damaging effect it had on native reptiles? Are there any plans in place for dealing with iguanas, Cuban anoles, or kudzu? Does anyone actually think that pythons could survive more that a year anywhere else in North America? Do normal people ever do the math on how many kids die from drowning or infanticide compared to the numbers that die from constrictors worldwide? Aren’t mustangs an invasive species? What’s your professional opinion on the considered “Python Ban” when they haven’t fully enforced the recently enacted R.O.C. laws in Florida? What in the world does the U.S.G.S. know about reptiles, outside of Disney cartoons? Is everyone’s normal reaction to new events to ignore it for a while, then dramatically over react?

Shawn says:

All good questions, Matt. Yes, many of the tropical wetlands have native species of crocodilians and boids, but the Everglades did not… until now. We do not know what long term effects the pythons might have on the Everglades, but they do have the potential to do damage to the indigenous wildlife and thus a proactive approach is best. The recent freeze has caused problems with many exotics (and native species) and numbers of iguanas, pythons, fish, frogs and plants were knocked back by the cold temperatures, but not eradicated. A ban is NOT the answer, but instead the new FWC regulations need to be given more time to work. They already have stopped most of the pet trade in large constrictors in the state.

Victor W. asks:

I am a member of the Kansas Herpetology Society. I am a teacher here in Kansas so I am off in the summer. If you were to have a need for summer python help, my wife may let me come down for a month. All I need is a cheap place to crash.

Shawn says:

Hey Victor. Kudos on being a member of the KHS. Herpetological Societies are a huge educational resource and a great way to get educated about reptiles and amphibians! I’m sure we could find some fellow herpers to aid you in your aspirations for herping Florida.

Jon asks:

Unanswered questions that come to mind: 1. How long do the pythons live? 2. How big do they grow? I heard 15′, 20′, 25′ during the course of the show. Do females grow bigger than males? 3. How far north are they likely to spread? Do they hibernate? 4. Why do some Burmese pythons have pale markings, and others a deep pattern? 5. Are they the top predator in their original Burmese habitat? What do they co-exist with there? How do people deal with them? 6. Could the meat and skin become a new Florida export? 7. What other extermination methods are under consideration besides hunting individual snakes? 8. The program mentioned reticulated pythons, but focused on Burmese. What is the difference? Are the reticulated also invading South Florida?

Shawn says:

They can live over 25 years in captivity… in the wild it is unknown. Males may reach 14 feet while females can get over 20 feet. It is unlikely that they will move any further north than they already have due to cold temperature restrictions. They do not hibernate, as they evolved in a tropical system in Southeast Asia. Like most species, there is variability in their color and patterns. Many dark animals you see may also be in late stages of ecdysis (shedding their skin). They are a top predator in their native systems, but have predators as well. Southeast Asia has crocodiles, large cats, birds of prey and many more. Remember that most of the hatchlings are eaten before ever making it to adulthood, so many animals prey upon them. Contrary to popular belief, they are not a threat to people in their native range or in the U.S. The skin could potentially be of value, but there are reports that the meat has high levels of mercury in it. Pheromone baiting, long net trapping, infrared aerial tracking are a few other management strategies that have been considered. The reticulated python is a different species of large constrictor from Asia as well, but it is not invading South Florida.

El Sanburg asks:

What are the actual population – and range – estimates based upon for the feral pythons and lizards: hype, fear, politics, or true science? We really need to know the results of factual scientific data and not, as several animal-control people presented, ‘guesstimates’ or beliefs based on unsystematic and biased collection samples. I would very much appreciate a lead on the published references for these data. With respect to the Florida pythons’ stomach contents that were reported in this program: what are the complete species lists and individual counts in the stomach contents for each and all of the snakes; how many snakes were sacrificed for the study population; what size, age estimates, and sex were these snakes; how many were gravid; where were their capture locations; in what year, season and weather was each snake captured; how many snakes were thriving, versus starving or ill; and why are we ONLY presented, in this program, with the endangered species that were eaten and not the full range of presumably more-available non-endangered animals?

Shawn says:

All good questions El. Much of what you ask has not been tabulated between the different agencies that are involved in this program… Department of Interior, South Florida Water Management and the FWC. Much of this data is also being written into scientific papers right now and thus are not currently in published references as yet. As far as the actual population numbers… there is no way to know that. True numbers for any species on this planet are not known unless they are so endangered that there are only a handful left. Population numbers are built on field counts and extrapolated or plugged into models. Clearly we cannot count every snake. Distribution is a little easier, but still not 100% accurate. This population appears to be centered in South Florida outside of Florida City and Homestead and into the Everglades National Park. Yes, the majority of the prey items of the pythons are NOT endangered and include rodents, lagomorphs, birds, a deer, a bobcat and a handful of small alligators.

Reji asks:

How do I discuss this topic with folks I care about that are working in that area?

Shawn says:

Ask lots of questions! Gather as much info as possible so you are informed. Remember that even the “experts” don’t have all the answers. We are still trying to figure it out!

Isaac Pitts asks:

a.) What would I need to get a permit to hunt pythons in Florida? b.) Who hires the hunters, and do they plan on hiring more people to hunt pythons in Florida? c.) What does this job pay \ is it a hobby? d.) Are you allowed to hunt in the Everglades National Park, or do you have to find them outside of the park? e.) Is there a current market for the skin\meat of the python’s that are hunted? f.) Do you work with people that euthanize or is that a separate group of people hired by the Florida government \ park service?

Shawn says:

Go to www.myfwc.com for permit requirements and more info about the program. The hunters are not hired… we are all volunteers, and there is no pay. The permits for the state (FWC) and the Everglades National Park are two different permits/programs. There is not currently a market for python skin, but it is being looked at. The meat has high levels of mercury in it and thus is not good for human consumption. Some animals are euthanized, some are taken for further studies and research.

Melissa Kendall asks:

A recent article stated that Fish and Game estimates that 50% of non native green iguanas were killed in the latest cold snap in the Glades. How many large snakes do you think were killed? What temperatures are usually necessary to dispatch a large snake like a Burmese?

Shawn says:

Hey Melissa. I think the 50% may be a low figure for iguana mortality. There is no real way to know how many Burmese pythons died from the cold, but we are finding approximately the same amount dead as alive. Prolonged temperatures in the 30s and 40s (Fahrenheit) can be deadly for these tropical animals. Freezes are killers for this species.

Julie asks:

As a former employee of Flamingo, I saw pythons kept as pets. I lived there in the late 80s. Is it possible that the release of these animals when the season ended has caused this invasion?

Shawn says:

No doubt, Julie, that some have been dropped by uninformed or irresponsible pet owners, but in my opinion not enough to have found one another and established a population. Look up the term Propagule Pressure for a better understanding of what I am referring to. Everything (genetic study, absence of color mutations, epicenter, etc.) points to Hurricane Andrew as the major source for this wild population.

Aaron Y asks:

1. What empirical data exists about the impact of pythons on the Everglades beyond people simply seeing them? 2. How does python destruction of native flora and fauna compare with destruction caused by housing development, agricultural development, human pollution, taking swamp buggy rides and other human activities or human proliferated animals? 3. Regarding the fear of danger to humans, what are the comparisons of snake related fatalities to dog/livestock/horses or other animals that humans interact with? For that matter what are the fatality comparisons between snakes and alcohol related fatalities or heart disease or cancer? 4. What studies have been done on what the pythons eat at each stage of their lives to help show the impact they are actually having? My concern is the disproportionate fear [about] this snakes seems [to] exaggerate the issue to the point that legislation is proposed which would essentially ban the keeping and sales of almost ALL foreign plants and animals without any actual scientific backing. While non-native species proliferation and habitat destruction are big issues, using them as sensationalist marketing tactics for increasing viewership is irresponsible. I look forward to the show to see how this issue is portrayed.

Shawn says:

We have empirical data that tells us that the population is breeding, we know that they are feeding on a wildlife within the population and we know they that there are more than just a handful of them out there. Regarding how the impact of pythons compares to the impact of human development, it pales in comparison…humans are and always will be the largest injurious species on this planet. NO HUMAN has ever been attacked or injured by one of these wild pythons. There is ongoing data collection of gut content from all pythons captured in the wild to help answer these questions about what they eat. I think PBS did a good job at trying to show the issue from both sides… but the documentary was only 1 hour in length and this is a topic that would take days to fully explore.

Marc asks:

I kept hearing over and over that there are 10,000 Burmese pythons in ENP. Question #1 What method was used in quantifying the Burmese python population in ENP? Question #2 How did you determine that predators were unsuccessful in preying upon neonate and juvenile pythons? You showed some footage showing a king snake letting go of a python and made a statement that they are unable to prey upon them. was this based upon that single observation?? I ask the same question about the raccoon, alligator and bird of prey.. you stated that this was because the python had a strike as a defense mechanism, but this same mechanism is used by all of the local snake species as well. In fact king snakes commonly prey upon venomous snakes that are much larger than neonate Burmese pythons. The program makes it sound like Burmese pythons have absolutely no chance of predation, when in fact it has been documented that several species are using them as a food source. Question #3 The footage showing the female Burmese python with 3 males within 50 feet during a live shoot. This seemed almost to lucky to be true. I find it very odd that 2 of those males.. when being approached by cameramen, were laying on top of tall grasses almost as if they had been gently placed there…. Burmese pythons don’t move that way… they slide through the grass… not on top of it…. Also the lighting in 2 of the shots looked to be taken at different times of the day, but edited to look like a possible breeding group was found. What really happened out there? Why was there no mention of the climate acting as a barrier for these snakes?? There was also no mention of the transmitter study that yielded numerous dead pythons following the winter. Question #4 Why were they allowing pythons to stay in ENP for tourists to see? It really seems more like Florida is using the Burmese Python to get tourists, and pull in extra dollars to fund ENP restoration program, when in fact there are many other invasive species that have much greater fecundity and cause much more ecological damage? I am rather disappointed that a fellow scientist would participate in this kind of pseudoscience, and conduct research that produces opinionated conclusions that are motivated by political agenda.

Shawn says:

Like any population…there is a certain degree of error due to the fact that you cannot count every animal in the wild. Numbers have been informed estimates based on filed biologists, permittees and models. Regarding the scene you mention, I honestly cannot tell you as I was not present for the National Park shoot, but breeding aggregations have been known to occur. This was filmed long before the cold snap occurred. I am unclear to your reference to “allowing pythons to stay in the ENP” for tourists as this is not the case. The reference in the documentary was that tourists may be interested in seeing them. You are correct that many invasives are far more injurious than the pythons, but unfortunately they do hold sway over many from the unwarranted fear they generate in some humans. Not sure if you are referring to me or not [when you say you're "disappointed that a fellow scientist would participate in this kind of pseudoscience"], but my role in this was overall relatively small and I stand by what is attributed to me. Remember that science is about discovery and the ability to openly debate, support or refute the data. That is what makes it science. Also remember that research and television are different arenas and much of the scientific details are left out due to a documentary being 1 hour and the amount of material available to cover.

Gary Walters says:

Isn’t it time to start eradicating these creatures instead of studying them? Maybe you should have a state funded open season on the Burmese python paying some fair amount for each kill brought in and verified. Also why not try using some traps baited with female Python pheromones to capture as many male Pythons as possible and destroy them?

Shawn says:

I/We are doing both [eradicating and studying the pythons]. Each animal that is captured is removed from the ecosystem and data is collected for the study, which will allow us to have a better handle on the population and how to deal with it. Bounties are known to cause additional problems, but FWC is opening up the program to additional stakeholders to broaden the program. Pheromone baiting is being considered!

Jenn asks:

I am wondering what all the negativity is about. I understand that many who are here are interested from a fellow scientists point of view, but what is the matter with the pseudoscience in this particular situation? I found this show to be completely amazing. I don’t care that it was shot at different times throughout the day nor do I care about the funding or actual population of pythons in the ENP. I’m sorry that I am crashing this “comment party” with no actual questions, but I would like to say, from the perspective of a viewer with no bias to the area of science, that I thoroughly enjoyed this program. If there were more unnecessary facts and less of the “sensationalism”, I know there would have been two less viewers tuning in on Sunday night. Good Show. Thanks for the “mellow-drama”. I plan to look for future listings of this program.

Shawn says:

I am glad you enjoyed it Jenn. Ultimately, for most people, most shows need to be about a balance of science and entertainment.

Kimberly asks:

Hi Shawn! First, I would like to thank you for all the hard work you do in educating people about the facts and not blowing this problem out of proportion like much of the media. What are your thoughts on the proposed python ban (S373)? It is my understanding that this proposed ban will not have any effect of the Everglades situation which it was originally written for. Also, it seems many people blame pet owners and commercial facilities for the release of pet pythons into the Everglades. There has been little mention of mass escapes from Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which largely contributes to the population. Do you think it would be feasible to micro chip large constrictors (much like they do with dogs)? I could be mistaken, but if pet owners are really releasing pythons, micro-chipping would certainly prove that and hefty fines would help with the funding needed to rid the Everglades of Burmese pythons.

Shawn says:

Hey Kimberly. In my opinion, the data does point to escapes from the destruction of Hurricane Andrew for this wild population. Micro-chipping is being currently used and is a legitimate tool for identification. As for S373 and all the other bans…they are sadly based on politics instead of facts and logic. They will nothing to help the problem, BUT THEY WILL EXACERBATE IT.

Donna Rae asks:

Hi, Shawn – We didn’t see the beginning of the show (yet), but it was very interesting. We are wondering if python meat is EDIBLE. If so, we are thinking it would be a great thing for Floridians to serve them up! In Kenya, the carnivore restaurant does very well with local, native harvesting… perhaps python (barbequed or …?) could be a tourist attraction and tasty for locals too? Feed the people, make some money and get rid of some of the invading species. Could be a win-win for most all – including the poor birds and wood rats! Perhaps the Chamber of Commerce could have a cooking contest/festival and also promote education about not releasing pets/non-native species…and the interesting python… perhaps along with the amnesty day featured on the show (or that same week)? Thank you for your response! Very interesting!

Shawn says:

Hey Donna. Unfortunately, the pythons are said to have high levels of mercury in them and thus are NOT good for human consumption.

Josh asks:

Is there any particular reason why only Burmese pythons have invaded the Everglades and not other large constrictors as well?

Shawn says:

There has never been a large insertion of other large constrictors into the Everglades like there was with Burmese pythons from the destruction of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. For most invasives it takes a large number of specimens or large number of insertion events to establish a breeding population.

Beth H asks:

You said, “The reticulated python is a different species of large constrictor from Asia as well, but it is not invading South Florida.” Why is that species not invading? Is it not a snake that people like to collect, and then release when it gets too big to handle? Is there a habitat difference? Is this related to the big escape of a collection of Burmese pythons, because of a hurricane?

Shawn says:

You are correct… a large number of Retics never escaped due to the destruction of Hurricane Andrew or any other hurricane. And now that FWC is doing an even better job at regulating the large constrictors and other Reptiles of Concern it should never happen period.

  • Dr. Wyman

    Mr. Heyflick,

    What is your opinion of the USGS report and its prediction of the spread of these animals?

  • David Gross

    growing up in south florida being around all the native animals. these snakes are very dangerous to the glades. but the numbers on these snakes cant be confermed. yes theres a lot of them living in the everglades but think about all of the baby snakes that become a food source. it works both ways. yes they will breed and spread and just maybe there might be a new hybreed come out of it but thats not likely.the numbers theses large snake are being killed each year are not low. it look like some one could figure out a way 2 return alot of the larger snake back home after all the numbers of real large snake are growing smaller and smaller in there native homes, i do respeck them , i own a red tail i have had a couple of pythons i just wish they didnt have to be destoryed. ty and i really do injoy watching these program about these snake

  • Teresa

    I’ve heard that it’s possible that there are tens of thousands of pythons in the Everglades. Do you think that this number is accurate? Is it an exaggeration, or are there really that many pythons in the Everglades?

  • Rebecca

    Hello Mr. Heflick,
    Is there any genetic evidence that the pythons in the Everglades are from diverse stock, as would be expected if the pythons are largely released/escaped pets? I’ve heard some say that many of the pythons are escaped from a military operation and that they are closely related genetically. Can you “shed” any light on this topic? Thanks.

  • Joan

    Will this program include a response to news of the demise of Burmese pythons caused by the January freeze in Florida?

  • Bob hilger

    I am a current member of the Chicago herpetological Society, and i currently own 8 snakes, including the common boa. I really do not see the danger these snakes in that they will consume and control the rodent population. In their own native haunts there are plenty of birds and other species thaty are not in danger of being wiped out by these snakes. I feel though that only people that really care for these animals should own them as pets and not every person who looks at them as a novelty, therefore there should be an import control on them coming here to the US. The fact is that Florida is just over run with rampent develpment, thousands of released exotic pets, ie monkeys, iguanas,etc. It is a real shame that such a beautiful state is just wrecked by bad government, poor wuildlife policies, and lack of respect to the saving of the everglades.

  • Nancy

    Please tell me these snakes froze this winter!!!

  • Rose

    As most already know, many of these snakes are spreading out and have been found in many South and Central Florida communities, such as the 2 10-footers found in a ditch near Sebring last year. We must hunt down and kill everyone of them that can be found, or the Florida ecosystem will be destroyed forever.

  • Douglas Bellizzi

    It’s not just the ecosystem. What about the danger to the human population? These animals are dangerous and they are stealthy. When it comes to the safety of human beings, there can be no apologia whatever for these animals.

  • FS Boyce

    Rose, I have bad news for you… the Florida ecosystem has already been destroyed, and it was destroyed long before the “python invasion.” In fact, the presence of Burmese pythons in the Everglades is a laughable coda to the decades of abuse perpetrated against this once paradisaical part of the world by the #1 invasive species, Homo sapiens. Disney World has done far more damage to the Florida ecosystem than giant constrictors ever will.

  • Suzanne

    Would these snakes ever attack a person in the open? Do these snakes enter residential areas in search of food or warmth? And is there something they don’t like or stay away from that someone could carry, in case of a run-in with a python?

  • Nathan B

    What, in your opinion, is the most effective solution to address this South Florida issue? There have been a number of solutions posed that failed to take into account the limited scale of the issue and attempted instead to make it a national issue. HR669, S373, and the Injurious Species Provisions of the Lacey Act penalize responsible owners and breeders of constrictor snakes across the other 49 states where the potential for survivability of these snakes in the wild is absolutely nil. Eliminating these animals from the pet trade does not address the established population in the far south of Florida and only harms the responsible keepers and small businesses that make up the captive-bred reptile industry.

    Do you believe that shows like “Invasion of the Giant Pythons” and “Python Wars” provide any sort of service to the public besides spreading more FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt)? When will they air a special about the feral hogs and cats that pose a far more real risk to the ecosystem in Florida, or do they fail the “icky” litmus test that grabs viewers’ attention?

  • Tony F.

    Why must the pythons be destroyed? Why not capture and relocate them to their natural habitat like some other wildlife programs out there. Its understandable people may not want them there, especially if they are not native to the land, but must they really be destroyed? I personally love pythons. I prefer ball pythons since they stay relatively small though. I had a Burmese before but it died due to illness. I would just hope people could find a better solution rather than eradication. Education would be a start. If the cause of them being there is due to people “dumping them off” when they are no longer wanted or get too big, the problem will never be fixed until people learn not to dump them there in the first place. They’ll just continue dumping them there and the problem will never go away. Owning a Burmese or any other large snake is just like owning any other pet. Do your research and use some common sense before purchasing one.

  • Derksen

    When will legislation similar to that which regulates the commercial ornamental plant nursery industry be applied to the exotic vertebrate industry? Their relative success in retarding or detecting invasive invertebrate problems could be used to model legislation for herp folks using acceptable industry-wide best-practices standards.

  • Matt

    I have a few questions, though I haven’t seen the whole show yet. Don’t all tropical wetlands except the Everglades have large constrictors and crocodilians present? What extended effect would large constrictors have on the everglades in the real long run, considering the skin trade and tourist dollars? What effect did the hard freeze have on the Asian and South American feral animals in South Florida, considering the damaging effect it had on native reptiles? Are there any plans in place for dealing with Iguanas, Cuban Anoles, or Kudzu? Does anyone actually think that pythons could survive more that a year anywhere else in North America? Do normal people ever do the math on how many kids die from drowning or infanticide compared to the numbers that die from constrictors world-wide? Aren’t Mustangs an invasive species? What’s your professional opinion on the considered “Python Ban” when they haven’t fully enforced the recently enacted R.O.C. laws in Florida? What in the world does the U.S.G.S. know about reptiles, outside of Disney Cartoons? Is everyone’s normal reaction to new events to ignore it for a while, then dramatically over react?

  • Victor W.

    Shawn,

    I am a member of the Kansas Herpetology Society. I am a teacher here in Kansas so I am off in the summer. If you were to have a need for summer python help, my wife may let me come down for a month. All I need is a cheap place to crash.

    I’ll be tuned in to PBS tonight for the episode. I feel for both side of the exotics issue, I have several native snakes, but would not let them go in an area where they don’t belong, nor should people let creatures go from other parts of the world. Some of these creatures are invasive and breed unchecked. Although introductions may be harmless like Topeka’s green lacerta, others like the zebra mussels and cane toads have a tremendous impact on the ecosystem. If animal lovers are responsible, they shouldn’t be allowed access to these creatures.

  • John Madsen

    I watched the whole program on these invasive species. Nothing was expressed, or even hinted at, concerning mans role in eliminating these pests; Burmese Pythons, Green Iguanas, and Monitor Lizards, but only saying that the numbers of these pests are too great, and we can’t hope to get rid of them all. Stating that they’ve watched a nest of pythons since 2008, it would appear that nobody was interested in eliminating them. There was lots of studies and experiments in this documentary, on habits and food preferences of the pythons. The overall theme that surfaced from this documentary, was that lots of money was being spent studying these species. The protection of native and endangered species appears to be secondary to perpetuating the studies, the story, and the money to be made from both. The fact that you need a permit from the State of Florida, to catch these invasive, and predatory species, tells me that money is a bigger priority than elimination of the problem. We, in Northern Michigan, have the Sea Lamprey, as a threat to the great lakes fishery, People are being paid to stun the lampreys and surgically rendering them unable to reproduce, then releasing them back into the Lake Superior feeder streams where they were caught; instead of just eliminating them. Is there anyone who has an interest is eliminating these invasive species? Eliminate (kill) every Burmese Python, Green Iguana, and Monitor Lizard that’s found, and the problem will disappear. You won’t solve the problem by finding them homes, or leaving them alive for tourist’s pleasure, or saving them for the bleeding hearts animal rights people. Put a bounty on these invasive species , or find a use as a viable food source, if you are serious about saving Florida’s endangered and native species. John Madsen

  • Robert T.

    Reticulate python skin is really tough and elastic. I tried finding python snake skin boots on the web – they’re $200 for a cheap pair. I’d be totally willing to do my part invasive-species mitigation and buy a pair of Florida Python boots.

    All we need is a couple of pet food and work boot factories to market python goods in the name of invasive-species mitigation.

  • Jon

    I found the Giant Python show to be more sensational than informative, long on melodrama and short on facts; more appropriate for the Discovery or Nature channels than PBS. Unanswered questions that come to mind:
    1. How long do the pythons live?
    2. How big do they grow? I heard 15′, 20′, 25′ during the course of the show. Do females grow bigger than males?
    3. How far north are they likely to spread? Do they hibernate?
    4. Why do some Burmese pythons have pale markings, and others a deep pattern?
    5. Are they the top predator in their original Burmese habitat? What do they co-exist with there? How do people deal with them?
    6. Could the meat and skin become a new Florida export?
    7. What other extermination methods are under consideration besides hunting individual snakes?
    8. The program mentioned reticulated pythons, but focused on Burmese. What is the difference? Are the reticulated also invading South Florida?

  • El Sanburg

    What are the actual population- and range-estimates based upon for the feral pythons and lizards: hype, fear, politics, or true science? We really need to know the results of factual scientific-data and not, as several animal-control people presented, ‘guesstimates’ or beliefs based on unsystematic and biased collection samples. I would very-much appreciate a lead on the published references for these data.
    With respect to the Florida pythons’ stomach-contents that were reported in this program: what are the complete species-lists and individual-counts in the stomach contents for each and all of the snakes; how many snakes were sacrificed for the study population; what size, age-estimates, and sex were these snakes; how many were gravid; where were their capture locations; in what year, season and weather was each snake captured; how many snakes were thriving, versus starving or ill; and why are we ONLY presented, in this program, with the endangered species that were eaten and not the full range of presumably more-available non-endangered animals?

  • reji

    how do i discuss this topic with folks i care about that are working in that area
    please advice
    reji

  • Isaac Pitts

    a.)What would i need to get a permit to hunt pythons in florida?
    b.)who hires the hunters and do they plan on hiring more people to hunt pythons in florida?
    c.)What does this job pay \ is it a hobby?
    d.)Are you allowed to hunt in the everglades national park, or do you have to find them outside of the park?
    e.)Is there a current market for the skin\meat of the python’s that are hunted?
    f.) Do you work with people that euthanize or is that a seperate group of people hired by the florida goverment \ park service?

  • Melissa Kendall

    A recent article stated that Fish and Game estimates that 50% on non native green iguanas were killed in the latest cold snap in the Glades. How many large snakes do you think were killed? What temperatures are usually necessary to dispatch a large snake like a Burmese?

    Thanks–
    S. Fl. Native

  • Julie

    As a former employee of Flamingo, I saw pythons kept as pets. I lived there in the late 80’s. is it possible that the release of these animals when the season ended has caused this invasion?

  • Aaron Y

    Couple of questions:

    1. What empirical data exists about the impact of pythons on the everglades beyond people simply seeing them?
    2. How does python destruction of native flora and fauna compare with destruction caused by housing development, agricultural development, human pollution, taking swamp buggy rides and other human activities or human proliferated animals?
    3. Regarding the fear of danger to humans, what are the comparisons of snake related fatalities to dog/livestock/horses or other animals that humans interact with? For that matter what are the fatality comparisons between snakes and alcohol related fatalities or heart disease or cancer?
    4. What studies have been done on what the pythons eat at each stage of their lives to help show the impact they are actually having?

    My concern is the disproportionate fear that this snakes seems exaggerate the issue to the point that legislation is proposed which would essentially ban the keeping and sales of almost ALL foreign plants and animals without any actual scientific backing. While non-native species proliferation and habitat destruction are big issues, using them as sensationalist marketing tactics for increasing viewership is irresponsible. I look forward to the show to see how this issue is portrayed.

  • Marc(Certified Environmental Scientist)

    This program was rather disappointing. I was hoping for some actual facts. This turned out to be more exaggerated sensationalism.. as it was produced to further seed the public with bias. I kept hearing over and over that there are 10,000 burmese pythons in ENP.
    Question #1 What method was used in quantifying the burmese python population in ENP?
    Question #2 How did you determine that predators were unsuccessful in preying upon neonate and juvenile pythons? You showed some footage showing a kingsnake letting go of a python and made a statement that they are unable to prey upon them. was this based upon that single observation?? I ask the same question about the racoon, alligator and bird of prey.. you stated that this was because the python had a strike as a defense mechanism…. but this same mechanism is used by all of the local snake speceis as well. In fact kingsnakes commonly prey upon venomous snakes that are much larger than neonate burmese pythons. The program makes it sound like burmese pythons have absolutely no chance of predtaion, when in fact it has been documented that several species are using them as a food source.
    Question #3 The footage showing the female burmese python with 3 males within 50 feet during a live shoot. This seemed almost to lucky to be true. I find it very odd that 2 of those males.. when being approached by cameramen, were laying on top of tall grasses almost as if they had been gently placed there…. burmese pythons don’t move that way… they slide through the gras… not on top of it…. Also the lighting in 2 of the shots looked to be taken at different times of the day, but edited to look like a possible breeding group was found. What really happened out there?
    Why was there no mention of the climate acting as a barrier for these snakes?? There was also no mention of the transmitter study that yielded numerous dead pythons following the winter.
    QUestion #4 Why were they allowing pythons to stay in ENP for tourists to see? It really seems more like Florida is using the Burmese Python to get tourists, and pull in extra dollars to fund ENP restoration program, when in fact there are many other invasive species that have much greater fecundity and cause much more ecological damage?

    I am rather disappointed that a fellow scientist would participate in this kind of pseudoscience, and conduct research that produces opinionated conclusions that are motivated by political agenda.
    One more question…… Who provided the funding associated with the production and fiilming of this program. Please give us the money trail..?? this question is the most important one…

    All this time and energy could be used for more pressing issues….. It would be nice if they would get their priorities straight…. PS.. I wonder how many of those endangered Key West Wood Rats have been eated by feral cats

  • Gary Walters

    Isn’t it time to start eradicating these creatures instead of studying them? Maybe you should have a state funded open season on the Burmese Python paying some fair amount for each kill brought in and verified. Also why not try using some traps baited with female Python pheromones to capture as many male Pythons as possible and destroy them?

  • Jenn

    I am wondering what all the negativity is about. I understand that many who are here are interested from a fellow scientists point of view, but what is the matter with the pseudoscience in this particular situation? I found this show to be completely amazing. I don’t care that it was shot at different times throughout the day nor do I care about the funding or actual population of pythons in the ENP. I’m sorry that I am crashing this “comment party” with no actual questions, but I would like to say, from the perspective of a viewer with no bias to the area of science, that I thoroughly enjoyed this program. If there were more unnecessary facts and less of the “sensationalism”, I know there would have been two less viewers tuning in on Sunday night. Good Show. Thanks for the “mellow-drama”. I plan to look for future listings of this program.

  • Kimberly

    Hi Shawn! First, I would like to thank you for all the hard work you do in educating people about the facts and not blowing this problem out of proportion like much of the media. What are your thoughts on the proposed python ban (S373)? It is my understanding that this proposed ban will not have any effect of the Everglades situation which it was originally written for. Also, it seems many people blame pet owners and commercial facilities for the release of pet pythons into the Everglades. There has been little mention of mass escapes from Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which largely contributes to the population. Do you think it would be feasible to micro chip large constrictors (much like they do with dogs)? I could be mistaken, but if pet owners are really releasing pythons, micro-chipping would certainly prove that and hefty fines would help with the funding needed to rid the Everglades of Burmese pythons.

  • Donna Rae

    Hi, Shawn – We didn’t see the beginning of the show (yet), but it was very interesting. We are wondering if python meat is EDIBLE. If so, we are thinking it would be a great thing for Floridians to serve them up! In Kenya, the carnivore restaurant does very well with locall, native harvesting…perhaps python (barbequed or …?) could be a tourist attraction and tasty for locals too? Feed the people, make some money and get rid of some of the invading species. Could be a win-win for most all – including the poor birds and wood rats!

    Perhaps the Chamber of Commerce could have a cooking contest/festival and also promote education about not releasing pets/non-native species…and the interesting python….perhaps along with the amnesty day featured on the show (or that same week)? Thank you for your response! Very interesting!

  • Josh

    Is there any particular reason why only burmese pythons have invaded the everglades and not other large constrictors as well?

  • Beth H

    You said, “The reticulated python is a different species of large constrictor from Asia as well, but it is not invading South Florida.” Why is that species not invading. Is it not a snake that people like to collect, and then release when it gets too big to handle? Is there a habitat difference? Is this related to the big escape of a collection of Burmese pythons, because of a hurricane?

  • Rose

    to F. S. Boyce, I have been watching the ecosystem of Florida being destroyed before my eyes for 54 years. My bottom line is, the idea of anything being swallowed alive is repugnent and harboring something that does this is horrofying to me. I fear a child in a stroller will be attacked, there is nothing these snakes are not capable of killing . Someday, there will be nothing left of the south Florida I knew and loved.

  • matt

    I will be participating in the upcoming hunt.. would you advise driving the levies, boating the canals, or walking the small islands and raised back country. We are entering Francis S. Taylor WMA

  • Brian

    They DO NOT not belong in Florida. Irresponsible pet ownership is mostly to blame. So unfortunate. While I believe all wildlife has a right to live… unfortunately the only way to preserve Florida’s natural ecosystem is to eradicate of these predators.
    This is very essential.

  • Joshua

    What I can’t seem to understand is what makes ‘humans’ the hand of God here? The planet has been changing constantly with animals migrating and growing for millions of years. This ‘problem’ seems to be the same argument for monitoring exotic plant life as well. If the animal moves (or is put in an environment) and flourishes in such an environment, I would think it very logical that that is where the species should be. Why do humans destroy natural environments to expand society? It’s fairly simple, b/c doing this allows the growth of our species, regardless of who it hurts and why. So is it not hypocritical to look at a species that has adapted to a new environment and flourished? This seems the way of nature. These snakes, if so dangerous, will simply eat their way to stable numbers. And nature, given time, will develope animals to combat the snakes. It’s how nature works. Things adapt and those that don’t die off will make way for new species.

    The reason everything is so messed up is b/c humans put it that way before they didn’t understand exactly what was going on. You can’t fix this by getting involved. Nature fixes nature, not humanity. When it comes to the planet, human history is a testament of how we’ve been getting it dead wrong. You want to save the planet? Spay and nutter your kids, stop expanding and get the hell out of nature. Let it fix its self. It will take years, hundreds if not thousands but the planet will be fine. Humans have a serious messiah complex and think entirely too short term.

  • Jerry Staub

    When I lived in Venezuela in the 1950s and early ’60s, there was a deadly snake in eastern Venezuela, commonly referred to by the natives as the Marron (meaning brown in Spanish), but I can’t seem to find any reference to it. I don’t believe it was a viper, but from the Elapidae family of venomous snakes. If possible, can you tell me its formal and common names and where I can go to get more information on it?

    Thanks very much!

  • David Keener

    You have been given a great experiment to see if 1) Will all the snakes die from the cold, and 2) will any be able to change and live in colder temperatures. While the world was given a nice warm period for the last 25 years, it is now starting a cold period which I think will last long enough to kill all the snakes and other tropical animals in south Florida.

  • Rick

    All in all, typical PBS silliness, a car stops on a country country road to let a python cross so there won’t be an ‘accident.’ Are you kidding? It is an unwanted species, run it over. And you need a permit to hunt down and kill this ‘exotic’ species? Are you kidding? It is a pest, does us no good but we require a permit to kill it. If you want them to disappear stop whining and being politically correct and put a bounty on them. Many birds, wolves, buffalo and other animals suffered near extinction because a price was put on their heads. Instead of having researchers piddle around to figure out that gosh they aren’t in the hundreds but the thousands or tens of thousands…gee, do you think? 54 were killed in one field.

  • Johna

    I have a question:

    How many different breeds of Geckos are there? also
    What do you think of the new adehesive tape? i spelled adehesive wrong i think

  • Lorna

    I hope your expertise can help explain my situation. I have an invasion of the frogs problem. They seem to be attracted to my home. None of my neighbors are having this problem. The frogs seem to line up outside my front door. When I go outside at night they are sitting on my doorstep just waiting for thechance to hop inside. They are all over my yard front and back and when they get in my Labrador goes bizerck and of course licks them…( it isn’t pretty). I’m just curious as to why my house? With an answer comes a solution, thanks for any that u may have. I apologize they’re actually toads not frogs.

  • jerry van hellemont

    I live in Michigan and there is a wetland behind my home approximately 100 feet away. We have had temperatures in the high 90’s this week and this afternoon a significant thunderstorm with ample rainfall. By night fall, my lawn was teeming with small frogs about half the size of a leopard from but brown and not green. there were literally hundreds of them in the grass, at the base of the house and the sidewalks. What would suddenly cause this to occur.? thank you for your assistance

  • Kevin

    Hi to tell the truth I am still a kid.I have always loved snakes and aspire to be a herpetologist someday. I want to know if there is any way for me to help. Also how do you get started breeding and selling snakes.I have also been on a trip to the Everglades and seen all of the beauty that is there and I agree that the invasive species should be eradicated if there is a problem with them. Again if I know that these are just very misunderstood creatures and would like to know if there is any way for someone like me to help

  • Corinne

    Hi–

    I was just wondering, if the pythons are going to be killed, are their meat and hides utilized? It may sound weird but I know rattlesnakes taste pretty good. Also, on a slightly off-topic note, I live in Marion County and it seems like almost all my resident brown and green anoles were killed by the hard freezes last winter. I miss them! How can I reintroduce them…at least the green ones. I heard the brown ones actually came from Cuba?

    Thanks!

  • Dillon

    hello my name is Dillon Gillenwater,i hope to be a herpetologist one day. I have a love for reptiles such as snakes, lizards, frogs, and alot more. i would like to talk to you about what it would take to reach my goal.

  • kiki

    scientist pose questions about how nature operates and attempt to answer thoes questions through testing and observation, they are conducting what

  • Chanhnourack (last name)

    Meadowview School
    2525 Mitchel Dr.
    September 13, 2009
    Hello Shawn Heflick,
    I’m Ellie Chanhnourack. I’m eleven years old and very mad and disappointed of you. I’m writing this letter this to tell you about Pythons life.
    Why are you hurting living things? Pythons are living animals they may have killed many of things but that’s how they live life. Their nature is to kill, eat, and lay eggs they live life. That’s what we should start doing.
    I know the Pythons are over populated but, what if the human kids are over populated would you aliment us from the world? They and we are living things god made us this way. Are you changing it for a reason? Because I’ve heard that everything happens for a reason.
    So you have a license to hurt Pythons, I get it. But you should really fight for what right, send them away to a place where there’s a lot of food and water. Make sure there are not much people.
    You should take them to a different location .Or put them in a zoo where they have food and water and they can’t hurt anything. And an eleven year old girl thought of this. Thank you for your time lessening to me.
    A disappointed kid,
    Ellie Chanhnourack
    (Sorry I wrote this a while ago)

  • Lauren

    (For the people to read) Why are some people being negative? They don’t kill the snakes, they use them for research and keep them in captivity until they die of age. Either that, or they humanely euthanize them.

    (For Shawn to read) I have been following your show ever since the first time I watched it. I love what you do and I wish that I could be out there catching Berms. I personally love the snakes and with that I could have one, but they are expensive and my mom would definitely say no. I have a completely harmless corn snake, but she is a good start. I enjoy constrictors because just because they don’t have venom, doesn’t mean they can’t kill. I feel sorry for all the poor Berms that are dying because of the cold front. I wish there was a way I could help them. The only question that I have is how exactly did you become a herpetologist? It’s my dream to become one, and I would like some pointers on how to start. Thanks!

  • jacob

    i don’t think that the snakes are the to blame. its not their fault that someone bought them as a pet and couldn’t take care of them. yeah i get were people are coming from. they don’t want these animals in their back yards. the snakes are doing what the naturally do. they are just fighting for their survival. and i think its pretty stupid that when someone finds one they kill it. no take it to a zoo or a wild life agency so that it can live the rest of their life. and the police department their should start raising the fine and letting people know that they shouldn’t buy an animal and then let it go free when it gets out of hand.

  • Jeanne Meeker

    I live just outside Houston, TX, on the coast. I have a very large python stalking my neighborhood. It has taken a number of pets, including mine. How do we catch it? I never know where it is going to be next.

    Jeanne Meeker, M.S.

  • Caty

    What has been a successful or unsuccessful solutions to control Common Boa’s? I have an Environmental Project on Invasive species and I have to look for successful or unsuccessful solutions that have been used to control Common Boa’s & I haven’t found anything.

  • marshall

    what is the likelyhood that the python will be able to survive in the florida keys?

  • Svetatil

    Today we have found a baby python on our back porch. We had to kill it, because we didn’t know at first what type of a snake it was. It was a little aggressive when my husband came close to it. It was 3 feet long. After we killed it we looked online and have found an article where a woman was killed by her pet snake and a picture of her pet was exactly that we had only smaller size. We live in Lake City Florida. How a python could show up here? Was it from Everglade pythons? Could it be someone’s pet also? What we should do – report to authorities that we did such a discovery on our yard? Or just ignore this incident? If you know an answer on this I would appreciate your help.

  • Geremiah

    I was wondering how old you have to be to get a permit to hunt Burms. in Florida?

  • Chris Braswell

    I live in Houston …I have or should say HAD an american pitbull terrier. he was 7 yrs. old and in excellent heahth…On June 25th there was a snake ( later identified as a Hog-Nose….Non poisionious ) that was eating a toad (identified as a Houston Toad ) …the dog attacked the snake and was bitten on the tongue. within 3 to 5 seconds the dog collapsed ..was totally limp and not breathing…his tongue turned dark blue imediately…the only thing he could move was his eyes and it appeared that his diaphram was paralized as he was making no apparent attempt to breathe…he was stone dead within 5 to 7 minutes…the snake and the toad were taken to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. for identification .The wildlife person we spoke to said the snake was non-poisonious and could not have killed the dog….and further-more the toad was only mildly toxic and he doubted it would kill the dog either….I saw what happened…it HAD to be the snake or the toad….Can you shed some light on the possibilities here? Thank You….

  • tom t

    I live 60 mi east of dallas an aquaintance of mine caught a live velvet tail rattlesnake near his home I cant find any info on these snakes .can u help???

  • jacob lewis

    I’m Jacob Lewis I volunteer at the Peoria Zoo in Illinios. I was wondering how can a burmese python swallow an alligator? Someone I had asked me this quiestion and i told them I dont know. I have lots of people they didnt have any idea so if you could please help me. I would really appericate it.

  • Jacob Jones

    how well trained do you have to be to raise a reptile?

  • Benjamin Cramer

    Hi my name is Benjamin Cramer, I am 14 and i would like to know how i can get more involved with reptiles i was thinking about volunteering at a local zoo.

  • Chris

    My question is if this is going to be an ecological problem and the government is worried about it why not charge for a permit to catch them but make a small reward for each captured or killed and turned in. It would cost little get the public involved and help control the problem.

  • Becky

    Florida needs to increase funding and trained personnel to remove the Burmese Python. As high as unemployment is it would be a good time. Our Ecosystem is being destroyed not to mention how dangerous they are. Snakes and other animals should not be allowed into our country and sold. Why this has not been stopped is beyond me. You are trying to remove a species that does not belong here, but yet they are still allowed to be sold. A law should be passed now on all species that should not be in our country. If the sellers don’t like it-tuff! Any animal and human can learn to adapt and nothing says the Burmese Python can’t adapt to colder temperatures as time goes by. We live in NW Florida and nothing says it will not be here in the future. They are aggressive snakes and it’s been reported many of time of a human being killed by them. The longer they are allowed to mate the more dangerous it becomes. They need to be destroyed now not later. PS-Enjoy your show and I wish you had more of them. People need to be more informed.

  • josh howell

    do you need a license to be a herpetologist

  • Jeanette McSherry

    My question is: Just looking at a snake bite – can you tell if it was from a rattlesnake, copperhead or cottonmouth? I know the venoms in each are different. Do they all have the same kind of fangs? Thank you

  • Phing

    Three question:
    1. Are Burmese pythons an introduced species to any country? or only invasive?
    2. How do human being deals with the problem? is there any solution that works/doesn’t work?
    3. Are python the world’s biggest snake species?

    Thank you

  • gary

    hi i work for the florida wild life foundtion mostly in the american alligator and crocodile relocation back to the everglades. and we work with australia zoo and use the same ways the catch alligators and crocodiles as they do. we have a NO KILL rule. every alligator and crocodile we catch is released safely in to the everglades. we also catch burmese pythons and relocate them back to aisa and the middle east. so encourage all wild life foundations to start catching and relocating pythons so we can save the everglades!

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  • sarah

    Hello I just watched python Hunters on OLN in canada and there was a episode with Shawn Heflick and his demo snake fluffy a python.It was 24 years old and in teh episode had an upper respiratory infection.I wonder how the snake is doing and if they had to put it down??? I felt so horible for the poor snake I just have to know what happened
    Thank you

  • Tim Upham

    If the number of pythons already in the Everglades having caused a 99% drop in the number of raccoons, opossums, white-tailed deer, and bobcats, how will this ripple effect on the environment affect highly endangered species in Florida, such as the Florida cougar, red wolf (which has been just reintroduced back into Florida), Everglades kite, Florida manatee, and Key deer?

  • jeremy

    what provisions do you think would make the kimberley process more effective?

  • Jim Bandstra

    Shawn,
    I know you addressed bounties previously, but what are the “additional problems” with putting a bounty on this invasive species (Burmese pythons)? In general, I really like and appreciate snakes (including poisonous species), but the non-native BIG snakes seem out-of-bounds to me. I know where I live (south-central Pennsylvania), the boys would be out smacking them down if a bounty was in place. Also, you commented: “You are much more likely to be bitten by your own pet dog, get into a car accident or struck by lightning.” Well, I have been bitten by my own pet dog, I have had a couple car accidents, but never been struck by lightning; so, it seems to me, sooner or later a child is going to be killed by one of these predators.

  • James Rep

    About the Florida problem with pythons. Let me clear something up, many people blame snake owners for the trouble in the Everglades. This is not the case however; the problem lies with 1991. In that year there were several hundred breeders in the Miami and Hollywood areas. Then later that year came hurricane Andrew which displaced several greenhouses that were being used to breed and store different species of pythons. There were literally hundreds of pythons tossed into the Everglades. Less than a 1/3 of these snakes are pets that have been released into the wild. Everyone complains about the snakes, but that is not much of a concern. There is a bigger concern and it needs to be addressed immediately. South Florida is dealing with the giant African snail. This snail carries diseases like Encephalitis. So Shawn I think the best course of action is education. I think the more people know the truth about what is going on the better. We will never know the best course of action, we don’t even know how many pythons there are in the wild. So stopping the growth and removing the snakes is impossible. Just remember not everything is as it seems, always research all avenues before making a judgement.

  • bill

    will we need herpetologists in the future

  • Maya

    What do Burmese pythons eat? What is their diet?

  • Nick

    Why do you need a permit to hunt a non-native. I personally think there should be a bounty on non-natives of any species.

  • Vasha Brunele

    Lots of people may hate this. Were wolves ever present in ENP, and would they prey on big snakes? The danger to humans by wolves has been grossly exaggerated, and they sure cleaned up Lamar Valley in Yellowstone Park. Checkout “Where the Wild Things Were” by William Stolzenburg.

  • sal Alonzo

    I have two coral banded pyhons in a large cage and have regular dirt as cover on the bottom of the cage. Is this Ok or should I use something else. Is there something better in the long run?

  • Noelle

    What are some ways to estimate the population size of the Burmese Pythons in the Everglades National Park?
    I know of PIT tagging, but people would have to actually get physical and go catch these pythons. So what are some ways of estimating the population size of Burmese Pythons in ENP? not just the estimated numbers.

  • Mark Whiteside

    Is there training for hunting and capturing pythons? How would one gain the experience required to help stop the problem?

  • Kevin H

    Why couldn’t geneticists create a Trojan horse by capturing the animals and modifying the genetic markers of males and females so they could produce offspring but in turn those offspring couldn’t once again reproduce. In other words weakening the genetic material until the animals quite literally would extinguish themselves in short order. It seems like the population would be decimated in a year or two.

  • Mr. magee

    Do you think the pythons really should be hunted and killed i mean its not the pythons fault they were dumped out on there own and had to survive

  • Carl Johnson

    I have a ball python and have had her for about 4 years but she hasn’t eaten for about 3months now. She doesn’t look bad but my question is this….. do they go through this type of thing during their breeding season and do, or can they egg bind without having male contact? Also, will she still produce eggs. There are too many varying opinions on the net and I want the opinion of a proffesional. Can you help please? Thank you!

  • Nikita

    How much money from the federal and state governments is going into the project of stopping the Burmese Python population from expanding? Also, do you think this should be a federal issue or is it so out of control that the state actually needs federal aid?

  • Anand V

    I am a 3rd grade student in Lewisville, Texas doing a project on herpetologists and their work. I need to get answers to certain questions like what are the best and worst parts of being a herpetologist? How is reptile anatomy different from human anatomy? who is the predator of a reptile and who is the prey? and some more questions. I need answers ASAP before May 5th. Please send across your contact email id so that I can mail some questions. I would greatly appreciate your help in this regard.

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