Other common names

African Python, Northern African Rock Python, African Rock Python

Basic description

Most adult African Rock Pythons are about 10-16 feet (3-5 m) in total length. These are very large, stout-bodied snakes with two mostly continuous and irregular dark blotches down the back that are bordered by black and white. The background body coloration is usually tannish-brown or brownish-gray. The top of the head is dark with a light stripe on both sides of the head that extends through the eye to converge on the nose, forming a dark spearhead pattern. Juvenile color pattern is similar to that of adults, except the coloration is more vivid.

large coiled snake with pattern that blends in with grass
African Rock Python. Photo courtesy of lucykeith-diagne/iNaturalist

Range in Florida

African Rock Pythons are a non-native species from sub-Saharan Africa that have likely been established in Florida since the early 2000s. They have been found in Sarasota and Miami-Dade counties. However, they are currently known to be established only in a small localized area on the southeastern side of US 41 (Tamiami Trail) and SR 997 (Krome Avenue) in Miami, Miami-Dade County.

Assessment of risk to people and pets

Non-venomous African Rock Pythons typically bite to defend themselves. Small individuals are not generally dangerous to people or pets. However, larger African Rock Pythons have large, sharp teeth, and their bites can cause severe lacerations. Large animals are also fully capable of eating dogs and cats. Virtually all bites occur when the snakes are intentionally bothered.

Comparison with other species

Burmese Python (Python bivittatus) Non-venomous Burmese Pythons have bold, dark dorsal blotches separated by thin light-colored bars. The belly is light colored in the center with small dark spots along the sides.

two images side by side - Image 1: Burmese Python - large snake coiled on a tree stump. Image 2: African Rock Pythons - large snake with pattern
Burmese Python. Photo courtesy of Todd Pierson.
African Rock Python. Photo courtesy of lucykeith-diagne/iNaturalist


Share your observations

You can help scientists better understand the biology and distribution of this species by sharing your observations. Send photos or videos of interesting observations, along with associated information, by emailing the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum for documentation in the Museum’s Herpetology Master Database. You can also post your observations on iNaturalist.

Additional helpful information

Do you have snakes around your house? Learn how to safely co-exist with snakes.

Still have questions about snakes or identifications? Feel free to email the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum with your questions or feedback on this profile.

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