August 9, 2022

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Snake hunters swarm ‘Florida Python Challenge’: Top photos of annual ‘removal competition’

  • Burmese pythons threaten Florida’s wildlife and are usually larger than all native snakes.
  • The Burmese python is a large nonvenomous constrictor that is an invasive species in Florida.
  • Florida’s python challenge aims to raise awareness of Burmese pythons and curb a rising population.

Hunters, enthusiasts, experts and spectators will descend upon the Everglades and embark on the Florida Python Challenge – an annual event to curb the invasive Burmese python.

The non-venomous Burmese python poses a threat to Florida’s native wildlife and is larger than almost all native snakes, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 

Studies have shown pythons wiped out rabbit and fox populations in regions of Everglades National Park. 

The commission says hunters may catch and humanely kill Burmese pythons at the time of capture during the 10-day competition, which begins Friday.

The challenge is a conservation effort aimed at raising public awareness ofthe threat pythons pose to the ecosystem.

Aside from bragging rights, the person who kills the most pythons or kills the longest python can win a range of substantial cash prizes (more on that below).

Here are some of the top pictures from the event over the years.

What are the Florida Python Challenge prize amounts?

The first place winner for the most pythons receives a $2,500 cash prize. Second place wins $750.

The longest python grand prize is worth $1,500. Second place wins $750, too.

What do Burmese pythons look like?

Pythons are tan in color with dark blotches and primarily live in and around the Everglades in south Florida, according to the commission. 

Burmese pythons in Florida are generally between 6 and 10 feet long, although they can grow over 20 feet.

When was the largest python ever caught in Florida?

In June, biologists captured the state’s largest-ever python – a female with a record 122 eggs and the remains of an adult white-tailed deer in her abdomen – at 215-pounds and nearly 18 feet long, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida reported.

Native snakes often misidentified as pythons

  • Coachwhip
  • Eastern Diamondback 
  • Red Rat Snake
  • Cottonmouth
  • Eastern Indigo Snake
  • Water Snakes

Camille Fine is a trending visual producer on USA TODAY’s NOW team.