Frequently Asked Questions
The intent of the Florida Python Challenge® is to raise public awareness about Burmese pythons in Florida and how this invasive species is a threat to the Everglades ecosystem, including native wildlife. The Florida Python Challenge® is a platform to share information about Burmese pythons in Florida and the threats they pose, encourage the public to continually remove these invasive snakes, and highlight the importance of responsible pet ownership so nonnative species such as Burmese pythons are not released into the wild.
The Florida Python Challenge® is a ten-day competition, challenging participants to remove as many Burmese pythons from Florida’s public lands as possible. This year there will be increased virtual and in-person training opportunities.
The python removal competition begins at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, August 5, 2022 and ends at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 14, 2022.
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 the following list of 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 register to take part in the Florida Python Challenge®. Participants will receive an email notification that confirms their registration was completed successfully. Participants should email PythonChallenge@MyFWC.com if they encounter any difficulties during registration. Participants must have a copy of their registration confirmation whether printed or electronic in their possession when removing pythons for the competition.
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 members and SFWMD Python Elimination Program members must follow the terms and conditions in their contracts while participating in Competition Locations.
Yes. Youth under age 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.
The Florida Python Challenge® Toolkit has the key resources you will need, including the data sheet for logging a captured python, a map of check station locations, official competition rules, specific area rules, a link to 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. Participants must have a copy of their completed successful registration whether printed or electronic in their possession when removing pythons for the competition.
Yes. In 2020, the FWC issued Executive Order 20-17 that allows for year-long lethal take of nonnative reptiles in 25 FWC-managed public lands in South Florida. Neither a hunting license nor WMA permit are required to conduct these activities in these areas. Learn more about removing Burmese pythons in Florida.
Dogs are allowed in some areas. Please refer to the specific area brochures for more information.
Drones are considered aircraft under federal law and are subject to federal regulations including air space restrictions. The use of drones is not prohibited to search for pythons on most WMAs unless prohibited by federal law; however, they are specifically prohibited in Big Cypress WMA and all SFWMD properties. Where drones can be used, drones may not be used to take or attempt to take game animals or crows or used to herd or drive them.
Participants must drop off humanely killed pythons at official event check stations during open check stations hours on the day of capture. If a participant captures a python on a competition location when check stations are closed, they must chill or freeze the carcass and submit their dead python to an official check station within 24 hours of capture. Live transport of pythons off a competition location is prohibited unless participants are acting as a python removal contractor in their official capacity for the FWC or the SFWMD. A data sheet must be fully completed and submitted for each captured Burmese python for it to be logged to reflect the correct competitor, python and location. See the official rules for more details.
In most cases, yes. Registered Florida Python Challenge® participants who wish to keep the skin of a captured Burmese python should indicate this by checking the box for carcass return on the data sheet turned in with the python at a check station location. After the python is measured for official entry into the Florida Python Challenge® and the entry window has ended, participants will be notified to pick up the Burmese python carcass from the University of Florida Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center in Davie.
While not every Burmese python skin is marketable, a few companies may be able to tan your Burmese python skin or fashion it into a leather product and return it to you for a fee or they may want to purchase the skin from you.
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.
The FWC supports the humane killing of all nonnative reptiles found in the wild. All nonnative snakes found during the competition can be taken to check station locations. However, only Burmese pythons will be eligible for a prize as part of this 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 before you participate. Additional training can be found on our Required Online Training webpage.
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 regulations brochures for more information.
Big Cypress National Preserve has implanted transmitters with orange tags on several Burmese pythons throughout the preserve. These scout snakes an important part of the National Park Service's python research and removal program. Do not harm or remove these animals. If you do capture one of these scout snakes, take a picture of the external orange tags (near the head or tail) with identification number visible 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 within 24 hours to receive credit for this capture. Participants do not need to measure the scout snake.