17-foot Burmese python caught in Okeechobee County

August 1, 2009

Staff from an animal hospital hold the python that was caught on the facility's property. (Photo courtesy of Okeechobee Veterinary Hospital)
Staff from an animal hospital hold the python that was caught on the facility's property. (Photo courtesy of Okeechobee Veterinary Hospital)

Male snake weighed 207 pounds

A 17-foot, 2-inch Burmese python was caught and destroyed on private property in Okeechobee County Thursday afternoon. The male snake weighed 207 pounds and measured 26 inches in diameter. Its stomach contents were examined, but nothing identifiable was found inside.

Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) scanned the python but did not find a microchip. As a Reptile of Concern, Burmese pythons must be licensed by the FWC’s Captive Wildlife Section and implanted with a microchip to be kept as a pet.

The FWC worked with the Florida Legislature and the reptile industry to establish and implement tighter restrictions in 2007 to help prevent the escape or release of this exotic species. The new rule requires an annual $100 license and mandatory caging requirements.

In addition, Burmese pythons more than 2 inches in diameter must be implanted with a microchip that identifies the origin of the animal.  This rule applies to all Reptiles of Concern, which include Burmese pythons, Indian pythons, reticulated pythons, African rock pythons, amethystine or scrub pythons, green anacondas and Nile monitor lizards. It is unlawful to allow one to escape or to release one into the wild.

“The capture of this large python shows us how well these snakes can thrive in the wild and create a dangerous situation after illegal release or escape,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto. “It also illustrates why the FWC is partnering with other agencies to implement python-control measures in South Florida. We will continue to push for additional measures to control the spread of Burmese pythons in the Everglades, where they are reproducing in large numbers.”

On July 17, the FWC launched a permit program that allows reptile experts to capture and euthanize Burmese pythons on state-managed lands around the Everglades.  To date, seven permits have been issued and five pythons have been captured.  Several more permits will be issued in the coming weeks.  The permit holders must collect data on captured pythons and submit that information to the FWC.

The program continues until Oct. 31, at which time the FWC will analyze the data and determine if the program should be extended or expanded.

Click here for Python Permit Program FAQs

For more information, contact FWC Gabriella B. Ferraro, 772-215-9459