Practical information to identify and manage non-native, invasive plants and animalsThe Quiet Invasion:
A Guide to Invasive Species of the Galveston Bay Area
Pythons and constrictors|
Human HealthPythons and constrictors are non-venomous snakes that typically feed on reptiles and mammals. The largest species reach a very large size and are capable of killing animals as large as crocodiles, pigs, antelopes, or small deer. They are also a possible danger to unwary humans.
Prohibited ListsIt is unlawful to possess certain nonindigenous snakes for commercial or recreational purposes without a Texas Controlled Exotic Snake Permit. Pythons and constrictors included under this law include African rock python (Python sebae); Asiatic rock python (P. molurus); green anaconda (Eunectes murinus); reticulated python (P. reticulatus); southern African python (P. natalensis), and includes ANY hybrid of these species. In addition, it is unlawful to "intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence release or allow the release from captivity of any of these snakes". Snakes of these species possessed without a permit may be seized, removed, and disposed of at the cost of the owner (TPWD 2009).
Introduction PathwaysPythons and constrictors have become popular in the U.S. as exotic pets. Tens of thousands of exotic snakes have been imported into the U.S. or are bred in captivity for resale to private owners. As a result of intentional or accidental release, Burmese pythons have become established in the Florida Everglades, creating a major concern for natural resource managers in Everglades National Park (NPS 2010).
Geographic DistributionNo species of python or constrictor have been reported as established in Texas natural habitats. Two species of Eunectes (yellow anaconda and green anaconda) are reported as invasive in the states of Arkansas and Florida (USGS 2009b).Three species of Python (Burmese python, African rock python, and reticulated python) are reported as invasive in the state of Florida (USGS 2009c).
Specific Primary HabitatsPythons live in a variety of tropical and subtropical habitats, ranging from rain forests and woodlands to grasslands and deserts. Some species are aquatic while others inhabit trees. Large species typically live on the ground but can swim or climb trees when needed.
Ecological, Economic, or Social ImpactPythons and constrictors feed on native species of amphibians, birds, lizards, and mammals and compete with native snake species for resources. Large specimens represent a threat to public safety. In some areas, pythons are known to damage agricultural activities, such as livestock operations (ISSG 2007).
Physical DescriptionPythons and constrictors range from 1 to 10 meters in length (about 3 to 33 feet) and can weigh up to 300 pounds. Females tend to be larger than males. Their jaws can have up to 200 backward curving teeth, designed to grip prey and prevent it from pulling away. Lower jaws can unhinge from the upper jaws. Many have striking skin patterns that help the snakes blend in with their surroundings. The pet industry has developed "morphs" with a number of different colorations and patterns, including albinos.
Reproduction CharacteristicsPythons lay eggs while most constrictors give birth to live young. Female pythons produce from 10 to 100 eggs, depending on the species. Incubation can last from two to three months. A female constrictor can give birth to as many as 100 young, though the litter typically ranges from 20 to 40. After hatching, young pythons fend for themselves without parental care.
FeedingSmall pythons commonly prey on lizards while larger types of pythons typically eat mammals, reptiles, and more rarely birds. Some pythons catch fish.
ControlSince early detection is key to preventing the spread and establishment of this species, regional/local monitoring or surveillance is essential. Nonnative species should not be released. If found, note the capture location, kill and freeze the snake, and notify the TPWD.
This species belongs to the following lists:
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Page Updated/Reviewed: 08/31/2010 1:49 PM |