Are large constrictor snakes such as Burmese pythons able to kill people? What is the risk?  Would this be in the wild, or in backyards?

Human fatalities from non-venomous snakes are very rare, probably averaging one or two per year worldwide. All known constrictor-snake fatalities in the United States are from captive snakes; these are split between deaths of snake owners who were purposefully interacting with their pet and deaths of small children or infants in homes where a snake was kept captive as a pet. There have been no human deaths from wild-living Burmese pythons in Florida. Overall, the risk of attack is very low.

We cannot categorically rule out the possibility of a fatal attack. In suburban areas and parks in Florida that contain ponds, canals or other bodies of water where large snakes could feel at home, the situation is likely similar to that experienced with alligators: attacks are improbable but possible in any locality where the animals are present and people are also present. The simplest and most sure-fire way to reduce the risk of human fatalities is to avoid interacting with a large constrictor. 

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video thumbnail: Under Siege: Battling Flying Carp and Giant Pythons and How Science Can Help
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Over the last several decades, non-native species have continued to invade sensitive ecosystems in the United States. Two high-profile species, Asian carp in the Midwest and Burmese pythons in the Everglades, are the focus of much attention by decision makers, the public and the media. Sharon Gross, Robert Reed and Cynthia Kolar discuss issues related to invasive species

Attribution: Ecosystems
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May 1, 2012

Biologists Remove Python from Everglades

This 16 1/2-foot python, being removed from the wild by USGS and NPS personnel, was captured in a thicket in Everglades National Park in May 2012. The python was equipped with a radio-transmitter and an accelerometer as part of one of the Burmese python projects led by USGS to learn more about the biology of the species to help in efforts to develop better control methods

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video thumbnail: Record-Breaking Burmese Python (17 feet, 7 inches, 87 eggs) Captured by The USGS, B-roll
March 31, 2012

Record-Breaking Burmese Python (17 feet, 7 inches, 87 eggs) Captured by The USGS, B-roll

Big Ol‘ Gal

This female Burmese python broke the records for her length — 17 feet, 7 inches — and the number of eggs she contained: 87. She was first captured in Everglades National Park by USGS researchers in the spring of 2012, when they followed a "Judas snake" – a male python with a transmitter – and found her nearby in the bushes. USGS scientists then

Attribution: Ecosystems
Image: A Record-Breaking Invasive Burmese Python
March 6, 2012

A Record-Breaking Invasive Burmese Python

This female Burmese python broke the records for her length -- 17 feet, 7 inches – and the number of eggs she contained: 87. She was first captured in Everglades National Park by USGS researchers in the spring of 2012, when they followed a "Judas snake" -- a male python with a transmitter -- and found her nearby in the bushes. This picture is from the day of her initial

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Attribution: Ecosystems
video thumbnail: Constrictor Snakes (B-roll)
October 1, 2009

Constrictor Snakes (B-roll)

Video footage (B-roll) of Everglades National Park biologists hunting and capturing a Burmese Python in Florida.

Image: Projected Python Range (in U.S.)

Projected Python Range (in U.S.)

Projected climate in the continental United States in the year 2100, based on global warming models, that matches climate in the pythons' native range in Asia.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Image: Burmese python, a Giant Constrictor Snake

Burmese python, a Giant Constrictor Snake

Burmese python (Python molurus). Photo courtesy of Roy Wood, National Park Service.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Image: Invasive Burmese Python on Her Nest in South Florida

Invasive Burmese Python on Her Nest in South Florida

A female Burmese python (Python molurus) on her nest with eggs. Photo by Jemeema Carrigan, University of Florida. Courtesy of Skip Snow, National Park Service. Used with permission.

Image: A Burmese Python and an Alligator Encounter in South Florida

A Burmese Python and an Alligator Encounter in South Florida

A Burmese python (Python molurus) peeks over the head of an alligator that holds the python's body in its mouth in Everglades National Park. Photo courtesy of Lori Oberhofer, National Park Service.

Image: Southern African Python

Southern African Python

Southern African Python (Python natalensis). The snake pictured is a representative of a species discussed in the USGS snake risk assessment. This snake was photographed in its native range.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Image: Reticulated python (Python reticulatus)

Reticulated python (Python reticulatus)

Reticulated python (Broghammerus/Python reticulatus) in Indonesia. Photo ©Bjorn Lardner, Colorado State University. Used with permission.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Image: Implanting a Radio Transmitter in a Burmese Python

Implanting a Radio Transmitter in a Burmese Python

Researchers implant a radio transmitter in a 16-foot, 155-pound female Burmese python (Python molurus) at the South Florida Research Center, Everglades National Park. Radio-tracking builds understanding of where pythons spend their time and therefore where they can be controlled in practice. Photo courtesy of Lori Oberhofer, National Park Service.

Attribution: Ecosystems