Frequently Asked Questions
The intent of the Florida Python Challenge® is to raise public awareness about invasive species in Florida, like Burmese pythons, that are a threat to the Everglades ecosystem. The Florida Python Challenge® is an effort to promote protection of native wildlife through removal of Burmese pythons.
The Florida Python Challenge® is a ten-day competition encouraging participants to remove Burmese pythons from seven Commission-managed lands in south Florida.
The python removal competition begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 4, 2023 and ends at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 13, 2023.
The Burmese python is a large, nonvenomous constrictor snake that is an invasive species in Florida. Burmese pythons were introduced to Florida via the pet trade and are now well established in the Everglades, where the snake represents a threat to the ecosystem, including native wildlife. Burmese pythons prey on native Florida species of mammals, birds and reptiles.
Only Burmese pythons removed from these seven competition locations are valid entries for the Florida Python Challenge®:
- Southern Glades Wildlife and Environmental Area
- Frog Pond Public Small Game Hunting Area
- Rocky Glades Public Small Game Hunting Area
- Everglades and Francis S. Taylor Wildlife Management Area
- Holey Land Wildlife Management Area
- Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area
- Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area
Yes. All participants must read the Rules and take the Required Online Training prior to Registration. Participants must have a copy of their registration email confirmation (printed or digital) in their possession when removing pythons for the competition. Participants should email PythonChallenge@MyFWC.com if they encounter any difficulties during registration.
Yes. The registration fee is $25.00 per person paid to the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida. This fee is non-refundable.
No. Registered participants do not need a Florida hunting license or a Wildlife Management Area permit to participate in the Florida Python Challenge®. FWC Python Action Team Removing Invasive Constrictors members and SFWMD Python Elimination Program members must follow the terms and conditions in their contracts while participating in competition locations.
Yes. Youth under the age of 18 must have their parent or legal guardian complete their registration. Youth must also be accompanied by a registered adult while participating in the competition. Parents accept all liability for their children’s participation.
Participants may work together when removing pythons during the competition. Participants who wish to work as a team must register as individuals and each pay the $25.00 fee. Pythons may only be submitted under the name of an individual participant. Prize determination is based upon submissions from individual participants and will not be based on submissions from an entire team.
Participants must have a copy of their completed email registration (printed or digital) in their possession when removing pythons for the competition. Participants will also need a datasheet for each humanely killed python submitted to a check station. All pythons must be humanely killed on competition locations at the time of capture. Novice participants may not transport live pythons at any time.
The Tool Kit has additional resources you will need, including a map of check station locations, official competition rules, specific area regulations, guidelines on how to humanely kill pythons, information on how to identify Burmese pythons and information on how to respect the Everglades habitat while participating in the competition.
Yes. Nonnative reptiles like Burmese pythons may be removed year-round by:
Hunting on Private Land: Nonnative reptiles like Burmese pythons can be humanely killed on private lands at any time with landowner permission - no permit required- and the FWC encourages people to capture and humanely kill pythons from private lands whenever possible. There is no bag limit.
Hunting on Commission-managed lands: Per Executive Order 23-16, nonnative reptiles including pythons may also be humanely killed at any time throughout the year on 32 Commission-managed lands listed below. All specific provisions in Executive Order 23-16 and all area rules and must be followed. No permit or hunting license is required. There is no bag limit.
Learn more about removing Burmese pythons in Florida.
To determine if a dog may be used to help find pythons, participants must read the specific area regulations for each competition location for more information. If dogs are allowed in a specific area, they may only be used to search for pythons. Dogs may not be used to capture or kill a python.
Drones/ Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are considered aircraft under state and federal law and are subject to federal (https://www.faa.gov/uas) and state (330.41, 330.411, 934.50, F.S.) regulations, including air space restrictions. There are also additional local drone rules in specific locations. Drones are specifically prohibited in Big Cypress WMA/ Big Cypress National Preserve (https://www.nps.gov/subjects/sound/uas.htm) and all SFWMD properties (40C-9.320, F.A.C.). In locations where drones are allowed to be used, they may not be used to take, attempt to take, herd, or drive any game animals or crows. Florida Python Challenge® registrants may not use drones to take any nonnative species during the Challenge.
The use of ORVs, including all-terrain vehicles, utility task vehicles and side-by-sides is prohibited in all competition locations except in Big Cypress WMA. Novices must adhere to ORV requirements that apply to the general public, including applying for a permit to operate an ORV within Big Cypress WMA. Permit applications for ORV use in Big Cypress WMA will be accepted beginning August 1, 2023. Participants registered as Professionals must adhere to the requirements in the National Park Service terms and conditions for python removal contractors for the FWC and SFWMD contractor programs.
Participants must submit humanely killed pythons at official event check stations within 24 hours of capture. Novice participants may not transport live pythons at any time. All Participants must chill or freeze python carcasses until submission to a check station. A fully completed datasheet must be submitted for each captured Burmese python. Read the Rules for complete competition details.
In most cases, yes. Participants who wish to keep the skin of a captured Burmese python shouldindicate this preference on the datasheet submitted with the python at a check station. After the event ends and all python data is processed, University of Florida staff will notify interested participants when carcasses are ready to be picked up at the UF Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center in Davie.
Some Burmese pythons removed from the Everglades that have been tested for mercury levels had high amounts of mercury for human consumption. Though it is not illegal to eat python meat, the FWC cautions that neither the Florida Department of Health nor the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have stated that python meat is safe to consume.
Only Burmese pythons will be eligible for a prize as part of this competition. Other species of nonnative snakes found during the competition can be humanely killed and taken to check station locations but will not count as part of the competition.
Florida’s native snakes are an important part of the ecosystem and should be left unharmed/undisturbed. Be sure you can identify Burmese pythons by taking the Required Online Training before you participate. If you submit a native snake, or are found to have damaged, destroyed or removed eggs from a native species, you will be disqualified from the contest.
Please visit the Florida Python Challenge® Prizes page for information on what prizes will be awarded.
The prizes for removing the most and the longest Burmese pythons will be awarded during the Florida Python Challenge® Awards Ceremony. Winners will be recognized in all categories.
The FWC suggests participants contact south Florida hotels to see if they are offering any discounts. Inexpensive or free camping may be available in the area; participants can contact local state parks to inquire about camping. Everglades National Park and Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area offer inexpensive camping. Free camping is allowed on certain days within the wildlife management areas included in the Florida Python Challenge®. Check the specific area brochures for more information.
Research agencies have implanted several Burmese pythons with radio transmitters to learn about their reproduction, movement, and habitat use. These “scout snakes” are located throughout Big Cypress National Preserve and the eastern portion of Everglades and Francis S. Taylor WMA. Do not harm or remove these snakes. If you capture a scout snake, take a picture of the external orange tag (near the head or tail) with the identification number and release the animal alive at the site of capture. Submit the photograph of the tag number with capture location (GPS) and date to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com within 24 hours of capture to receive credit for the capture. Participants do not need to measure the scout snake; the research agencies will provide the known lengths of any captured scout snakes.
Yes. Hatchling Burmese pythons are also part of the scout snake research program. Hatchlings have no external tags or marks, unlike the adult scout snakes. Look on the body for sutures and a transmitter bulge. You may also attempt to check for a PIT tag implanted along the spine. Record the capture time and location.
Take photos of the suture site and snake scale pattern, then release the hatchling where you found it. Send information to the research teams at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com within 24 hours of capture to receive credit for the capture.
If you accidently kill a hatchling scout snake, contact the research teams identified above to recover the transmitter and collect necropsy data.