Florida kicks off 10 days Python Challenge for 2023

The Florida Python Challenge. It sounds like a jungle version of the 1981 film “The Cannonball Run”, or possibly some type of reality show about fancy computer coding.

Instead, it’s even more strange, with hunters from across the nation and even foreign countries flocking to south Florida with guns, machetes, golf clubs, paint rollers and cordless screwdrivers ― all to get a chance at killing a snake that could be as long as 19 feet (as was a python caught near Naples recently).


A Burmese python that size would stretch nearly the length of a high school basketball three-point line.

This year’s big hunt starts at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 4 and ends at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 13.


Here are five things you should know before you grab a constrictor or join the hunt with a group of friends.

These aren’t your typical Florida snakes: they’re Burmese pythons that are large and strong enough to capture and eat deer and alligators.

And although they aren’t venomous (no snake is poisonous), pythons do bite with tremendous force. If bitten by one, don’t grab the snake and pull it away as the teeth are curved and will act like a saw ― slicing through your flesh.

Instead, grab the snake behind the head and pry the jaws open. Then remove your arm or other appendage from the snake’s mouth and seek medical treatment.


Florida has professional python hunters

There are two categories to enter: professional hunter or novice.

Professional hunters are those registered with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commision or the South Florida Water Management District. Both agencies have programs that pay hunters, typically by the foot, for captured snakes.

These are hunters who have, for the most part, produced snakes for the state agencies in the past and are considered to have an advantage over lesser skilled hunters.

The novice category is for the public, according to FWC.


How to humanely kill a python

FWC and other wildlife agencies prohibit any inhumane treatment of animals, even damaging invasive species like the Burmese python.

So, you must kill the snake humanely in order to participate in the challenge, which is using what’s called “pithing.”


“Pithing is an additional technique meant to cause death by increasing substantial destruction of the brain and brainstem,” an FWC website reads. “The goal of pithing is to render the cerebral cortex and brain stem nonfunctional. Regardless of the tool you chose for Step 1 (capture), you must immediately complete the following process of pithing to substantially destroy the brain and humanely kill the python.”


And just how do you do that?

Florida kicks off Friday 10 days Python Challenge for 2023
Florida kicks off 10 days Python Challenge for 2023

“Insert a small rod (a rigid, metal tool like a screwdriver, spike or pick of sufficient length) into the cranial cavity,” FWC says. “Use deliberate, multi-directional movement, move the rod forward along the left and right sides of the brain and then toward the brainstem, ensuring substantial destruction of the brain.”

Once that’s finished, you document the snake in writing, pack it in some type of bag and then turn it into the state.


Anyone found inhumanely killing a python will be disqualified, according to FWC rules.


Don’t kill native snakes

Florida is home to many native snake species, and some of those are sometimes confused with juvenile Burmese pythons.

Snakes that can be mistaken for the infamous Burmese python include the coachwhip, cottonmouth, Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, Eastern Indigo, red rat and water snake.

It’s much easier to distinguish an adult Burmese python from native snakes as they grow up to 19 feet in length.

Eastern Indigo snakes can reach 8 feet in length, which is about the size of small adult male Burmese python.


Online python hunter training required

You can’t just go out into the wilds of South Florida and start taking out invasive Burmese invasive pythons.

There’s training to be done, at least online, and there is a non-refundable $25 fee required. Hunters, whether they’ve ever seen a python or not, must participate in the training and score at least 85% on a quiz before registering for the challenge.

People who’ve been charged with animal cruelty or fishing or hunting violations can not participate in the challenge.

Follow Us On Telegram __________________________ Join us on WhatsApp ______________________________

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *