Episode 3: The Python Problem

The Everglades have been invaded. A million insatiable, invasive snakes are slithering their way through the swamp, eating everything in sight. The only hope to save the world’s most unique ecosystem is an extraordinary army: the python hunters.

Sometime in the late 1970s, a population of Burmese pythons began to reproduce in South Florida. The snakes aren’t native to the United States, but they adapted well to their new habitat: way too well.

An estimated million or more pythons, some of them close to 20 feet long, now inhabit South Florida, causing a massive collapse of the Everglades food web. The only way to deal with that many snakes? Hunt them down, one by one.

Reporter and Guest Experts

Kate Morgan is a journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, SIERRA, Popular Science and many other publications.

Kevin Pavlidis is a Python Contractor at the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and an Alligator Wrestler at Everglades Holiday Park.  He holds the Florida state record for the largest Burmese Python ever captured. His thousands of Instagram followers know him as the @snakeaholic.

Mike Rochfordis a wildlife biologist at WRA, a global environmental consulting company.  He spent more than a decade in South Florida, studying invasive species including the Burmese python. He co-authored 45 scientific journal articles, 14 book chapters, 32 technical reports, 36 oral presentations, and 14 poster presentations on reptiles and amphibians and he and his work were featured on National Geographic, PBS, and the History Channel.

Donna Kalil is a Python Elimination Specialist and  the leader of the Everglades Avenger Team dedicated to eliminating as many invasive Burmese Pythons as possible.  After catching her first Florida Burmese python on Christmas night 2015 with her family in tow, she has eliminated more than 100 pythons from South Florida Ecosystems. Several had up to 35 eggs in them.

Important Organizations

The South Florida Water Management DIstrict Python Elimination Program is  taking aggressive action to protect the Everglades and eliminate invasive pythons from across the landscape. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Python Pickup Program  is an incentive program designed to encourage the public to humanely kill Burmese pythons from the Everglades ecosystem and report locations to the FWC.