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Humane Methods for Killing Pythons

There is an ethical obligation to ensure a Burmese python is killed in a humane manner that results in immediate loss of consciousness and destruction of the brain. Here are several ways to accomplish this, including using a captive bolt or a firearm to destroy the snake’s brain quickly and completely.

To target the correct area, draw an imaginary line from the rear left of the head to the right eye, and then draw another line from the rear right of the head to the left eye (Farris et al. in press). While one person is holding the snake in place, position the captive bolt where those lines intersect. The bolt must enter at a slight angle, not flush to the skull.

A second way is to shoot the snake in the head with a firearm, being sure to use a safe but effective caliber and making sure that you destroy the snake’s brain. The bullet must be placed in the same area as the captive bolt. To target the correct area, draw an imaginary line from the rear left of the head to the right eye, and then draw another line from the rear right of the head to the left eye. The intersection of these lines is your target.

Although not the recommended method of euthanizing pythons, cranial concussion (stunning) by skilled personnel followed by decapitation is considered an acceptable method of killing large snakes by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) if immediately followed by brain destruction. Use a machete or other appropriately sharp tool. The tool selected should be capable of decapitating the snake as efficiently as possible. Keep in mind if you choose this method, you must quickly follow up by destroying the brain with the use of a firearm, captive bolt or other effective method such as pithing.

Regardless of the technique you choose, make sure your technique results in immediate loss of consciousness and destruction of the Burmese python’s brain.

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To target the correct area, draw an imaginary line from the rear left of the head to the right eye, and then draw another line from the rear right of the head to the left eye. The intersection of these lines is your target.