Africa’s Largest Python Now in Florida

Southern African Rock Python (Python natalensis) approx. 15ft (?!) constricting an adult female domestic goat, which is probably pregnant. The picture was taken in Zimbabwe, in Matabeleland South Province about 30 kilometres northwest of Bulawayo.Photo byMango Atchar

The African Rock Python is Africa’s largest snake. This snake is a non-venomous constrictor, able to kill large prey, including humans, using its sharp teeth and powerful grip.

This snake, which can be found throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, has established a small population in a small localized area in Miami.

A Southern African Rock Python about 10ft trying very hard to eat a small Steenbok. The picture was taken in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa byAlex Griffiths, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Another python species, the Burmese Python, has already expanded its range throughout Florida beyond any hope of eradication.

But the African Rock python’s population numbers are much smaller. However, no one really knows just how many of these invasive snakes are currently living in Florida.

Northern African python sightings were first noted in 2001, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

It all started back in the 1990s when more than 10,000 nonnative pythons, mostly Burmese pythons, were introduced to the United States as part of the exotic pet trade. These snakes were most likely pets that escaped or were released.

It is unclear if the North African pythons have been able to reproduce and expand their population the way their Burmese cousins have. However, in January 2010, a team captured a Northern African python that was 14 feet long, making it the largest ever found in Florida.

The current population is likely limited to a 6-square-mile area in Miami.

Like the Burmese, rock pythons have a giraffe-like brown, black and tan pattern. The easiest way to tell them apart is to roll them over: Burmese have plain white belly scales. The rock’s belly is speckled with black. Growing up to 20 feet long, African rock pythons are far more aggressive than the Burmese python.

If these two species run into each other and start mating, it could give rise to something terrifying: a new man-eating “super snake.”

By TigerpythonOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The hybrid species could be even bigger and meaner than either of its parents. That’s because of a phenomenon known as hybrid vigor, which can enhance genetic traits received from the parents.

Thankfully, it doesn’t look like these two massive snakes have crossed paths yet.

The rock python population is still relatively small, but if they start reproducing on masse, it could spell serious trouble.

Watch the video below to learn more: