BOCA RATON, Fla-- Aaron Conklin was taking an evening stroll on Highland Beach in Boca Raton when he ran into an uninvited guest.
“I noticed something in the sand, and I didn't really realize what it was until I got right up on top of it and saw a head," said Conklin.
It was the head of an 8 to 10 foot, nearly 30 pound Burmese python. According to wildlife experts, the Boca beaches are not its normal habitat.
“It is not a native species to Florida,” said David Hitzig, executive director of the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary. “These are animals that have escaped form people or people that have intestinally released them out into the wild.”
FWC brought the snake to the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter where they scanned it for a chip, a legal requirement. So far it doesn’t appear to belong to anyone. So the mystery remains: where did the constrictor come from?
“The fact that it’s not chipped means that someone had it illegally,” said Hitzig. “The question is did it escape or did someone decide they couldn't take care of it anymore and let him go."
Lifeguards told us they hadn’t seen a python on the beach in 26 years.
Pythons are not poisonous, but they can be dangerous if they wrap around you. Hitzig says anyone who owns a Burmese python must have a license.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission confirms it removed a Burmese python this evening on Highland Beach near Spanish River Park.
— EricP_WPTV (@EricPasquarelli) September 23, 2015
Typical Burmese pythons are tan in color with dark blotches along the back and sides. The blotches look like puzzle pieces, and also resemble the markings on a giraffe. They have a pyramid-shaped head with a dark, arrowhead-shaped wedge extending toward the nose.
Burmese pythons are semi-aquatic and are often found near or in water. They are also excellent climbers and can be seen in trees.
Often cited as having a docile nature, Burmese pythons are popular in the pet trade. However, they are currently listed as a conditional species in Florida and can no longer be acquired as pets in the state. They are also federally listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an Injurious Species under the Lacey Act which prevents the importation of pythons into the United States and also prohibits the snakes from being transported across state lines.
Click here for more information on Burmese pythons.
We will update this story as soon as more information becomes available.