As a child pouring over Clifford Pope’s classic book The Giant Snakes, I came across an account of an African Rock Python (Python sebae) that had consumed a 130 pound impala antelope. I pictured the scene, and determined to learn more about this largest of all African snakes. As a teenager, I went to work for a well-known NYC animal importer. In the course of unpacking hundreds of African Rock Pythons, all straight from the wild, I came to respect their ferocity – Reticulated Pythons, huge Florida Green Watersnakes, Anacondas and other notable “nasties” paled in comparison! Working at the Bronx Zoo’s herpetology department, I read reams of Copeia, Herpetological Review and Herpetologica back issues, always scouting for unusual feeding records. I was not disappointed…certain populations of African Rock pythons seem especially capable, even by large constrictor standards, of taking huge prey items…humans included (please also see this article on human predation by Reticulated Pythons). Incidentally, the impala mentioned above may be the largest snake meal ever documented. It was recorded in 1955 in South Africa – the 60 pound deer regurgitated by a Green Anaconda I tagged in Venezuela pales in comparison! Read More »
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A recent article in the journal IRCF Reptiles and Amphibians (V17, 1) provides evidence that the African Rock Python (Northern African Python, Python sebae), may have established a breeding population in southern Florida. The huge constrictors are adapted to take small antelopes and other large animals, and have been killed and consumed people in their native habitat.
Florida’s Introduced Constrictors
At least 45 species of non-native reptiles and amphibians have established breeding populations in Florida; many others have been observed but are not known to be reproducing. Among these are 2 of the world’s largest snakes, the Burmese Python and the Boa Constrictor. Other large constrictors, including the Green Anaconda, Yellow Anaconda and White-Lipped Python, have been found at large in Florida. Read More »