Elvis the Love Python Helps Rid Florida of Invasive Snakes

by Jack T. Wilder

There’s a war going on in Florida. And Elvis the Love Python is here to help.

South Florida’s most notorious pest, the Burmese python, recently took a few hits to their numbers. It might be a sign that humans are finally gaining some ground on these beasts that eat everything and wreak damage on fragile ecosystems.

No one is calling it a victory just yet. But USA Today is reporting that, “this past winter, the good guys took a big step in pushing back the battle lines against one of the world’s most voracious predators.”

Python breeding season typically runs from late fall to early spring. This turns out to be the best time to catch female pythons and remove them from the swamps. How? By putting a radio collar on big male pythons and tracking them to the female’s dens.

Cue the Soft Music…

South Florida’s radio signal python tracking program combined this past season to remove:

  • 86 adult pythons
  • 5,000 pounds approximate combined weight
  • 53 reproductive females
  • 2,500 developing eggs

That’s 2,586 fewer Burmese pythons then there were before dining on Florida’s native mammals, birds and other reptiles.

Hunka Hunka Burning Love

Conservancy python environmental science project manager Ian Bartoszek said his program currently uses 40 tagged male pythons in its platoon of love pythons to seek out the big females and remove them.

“I call a few of these snakes my MVPs – Most Valuable Pythons,” Bartoszek told a reporter. “They’re led by Elvis, The King, who was tagged in 2013 and reigns as the world’s longest surviving tagged male python.”

Joining Elvis on Baroszek’s MVP patrol are Johnny “He’s My Boy,” Luther, Ender and Quattro.

Together the five MVP love pythons rooted out 10 females this past season. Elvis and Quattro each located three. Luther and Johnny, two each, including two 100-plus pounders found by Johnny.