Hint: When Hunting Pythons, Use Bait

"You can go out there for days and days and days and not see one python," snake hunter Justin Matthews said last month. "I don’t care how much experience you have. It is going to take some luck."
see Plenty more where those came from — final take in Fla. snake hunt is 68 pythons – CNN.com.

Achh! With possible 10K+ pythons to be culled in the Florida Everglades, people have been walking around looking for patient and camouflaged hunters… That’s just stupid. I have never seen a python in the wild and don’t want to but they are snakes and I know how snakes hunt, by smell… Hint: Use bait and guard the bait, 24×7. Pythons also sense heat so it may help to have live mammalian bait.

These snakes hunt in the trees and swamps so make a trail of scents at the boundaries of forests and swamps and leave the bait where you can watch it. Watch the snakes pile on. Be patient. Snakes move slowly but waiting and letting them come to you is much more efficient than walking miles where your motion alerts the snakes to be still and their camouflage developed over millions of years works for them.

Many years ago I had plenty of experience with garter snakes. They live in similar although colder terrain and they hunt by smell. Let a frog, earthworm or small fish come withing metres of them and the tongue (the sense organ) will flick more and more rapidly with the head moving from left to right to judge direction as they home-in on the prey. When they are really close and the tongue touches the prey, they lunge and it’s all over. They can catch a jumping frog in mid-air. Amazing.

Once again, knowledge is key to a successful hunt. I have been hunting more than 50 years. Simple things like knowing what the quarry is doing makes the job much easier and faster.

Here’s how not to do it. You can see a snake tracking a rat here. See that tongue flicking? That’s what it uses to hunt. If you want to hunt snakes you have to guard the bait at night, too. Smell and heat-sensing work best then.

Smell can also be used against the pythons using dogs.
“So far Jake and Ivy have located 19 pythons, one of which had 19 eggs.”
Two dogs did better than 1000 humans walking around.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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9 Responses to Hint: When Hunting Pythons, Use Bait

  1. oiaohm says:

    ram Australian pythons don’t like humans. We are not good enough food value. The kangaroos are better eating they like the food fat free.

    You might have seen large diameters but not large length as such.

    Australia does not have that many pythons.

    Amythystine Python the biggest native python is fairly friendly. Yes 3-5 meters in wild generally. 7 meters outside not a threat to any full grown human. Main reason for nipping you is that you are not leaving it alone. Yes will bite humans but completely hates us taste of human. None of the tracing along snake to believe its moving any of those stunts required to handle them. 3-5 meter size 3 people will be able to handle them. They are not what you call super aggressive beasts. Most Australian pythons can be handled without any major problems.

    In theory a Amythystine Python might be a threat to children but never recorded as being so.

    ==diameters as large as semi-trailer tires== If you mean the tyre part without rim. Yes I have seen that size. They are not long enough to take on a truck. 7 meter python is too short to crush a truck they will attempt if you do park on them. 4-WD drive is too big for any Australian python to consider. Amythystine Python is insane enough to lay across roads to get warm and have cars and trucks drive over it. The fact of the matter most of the snake is on the road. It just looks larger than what it is when you cannot see the head and tail. Car or truck pass over them is just minor bruising to them.

    Yes Amethystine Python is the largest native in Australia.

    Largest non native in Australia is http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/04/atomic-betty-python-australian-reptile-park_n_1182896.html

    Yep Atomic Betty an reticulated python. That species is a known human eater. Even that its smaller than the Amethystine Python.

    Reticulated python large gets away with 3 to 4 meals a year. Bating something like a reticulated python fairly much forget it.

    Amethystine Python eats smaller meals more often.

    Yes man eaters like Atomic Betty you need more handling staff.

    Australia most of the snakes you are worried about finding are not large.

    Lucky trained dog can tell the difference between python and Elapid at range. So if you doing a study on pythons you don’t have to get near the Elapid yes the ones with nice I kill you venom.

    Some of the Elapids have bad personality of bite first ask questions latter.

  2. ram says:

    In Australia, python bite is the least of your problems. Actually, pythons are not much of a problem, although many are so big that if you encounter one and they are hungary then you’re their lunch, end of story! I’ve seen them with diameters as large as semi-trailer tires. They could crush a 4-WD drive if they thought they could eat it.

  3. oiaohm says:

    Der Balrog thing here is I understand the pray. Salt water croc territory here is not much different to Florida Everglades. Catching pythons for research reasons here in Australia in salt water croc area is the same as attempt to kill in Florida.

    2 dogs + 6 humans is the numbers to take them alive.

    Problem is scale the Florida Everglades python problem is a larger size python than I hunt. Teams here are 3 people 2 dogs. They are not huge pythons.

    Der Balrog also you your joke needs work.
    “Personally, I recommend Debian GNU/Linux for exterminating snakes.”
    Other than the fact it has a huge population of python scripts.

  4. oiaohm says:

    Robert Pogson ~16 per square mile. That gives a figure to aim to with dogs.
    –If they go a week without eating there’s one or two per square mile that are hungry.–


    The problem is min of about a week between meals. Small Burmese Pythons will be one week between meals.

    Large Burmese Pythons could be a month plus. Depending on what they have recently eaten.

    Next is that is only 1 meal per week/month. If they happen to come across prey before reaching your bate you will not get them. Basically one or two per square mil hungry the odds of those two of being no where near you bate is high.

    Something smelly is another problem. Bate/food for most pythons is only good for 24 hours max they don’t eat rotting things. By the time the bate gets nice and smelly that will cover range the python will not be interested in it. There is something else that will be really interested once it turns.

    Yes 100 000 pythons 1.3 million alligators. Odds of getting a alligator at bate is higher than python.

    Basically you are hunting python you are not wanting to invite alligators as well.

    –The folks I have read about in FL hunting seem to be sticking to trails and only touching a tiny portion of the region.–

    This is another reason to use dogs. Snake that has crossed a trail dog will detect. Snake near trail dog will detect as well when humans cannot see anything. Dogs with handlers doing down a trail will cover a larger area quicker than bating or trapping or even mad guy with gun who can basically not see snake. And if those trails are done every day they become like exclusion lines the pythons cannot cross. In our case in Australia cats and foxes cannot cross to protect out natives.

    Robert Pogson basically there are particular things in bear country you will not lay out as bate to get dogs because you will get the wrong pray. In the Florida Everglades is gator county.

    The dog hunting teams don’t have to use gun most of time. Yes live capture. This means the teams can be closer to each other without risk as well.

  5. Der Balrog says:

    Oiaohm should go to Florida, he would talk all the snakes to death.

    Personally, I recommend Debian GNU/Linux for exterminating snakes. It just works.

  6. oiaohm wrote of baiting pythons, “You are forgetting they only have to eat 1 per week if you are lucky Robert Pogson. It could be a month if they just had a big feed.”

    You forget the number of snakes is estimated to be up to 100K. That means there are about 6000 square miles of swamps so ~16 per square mile. If they go a week without eating there’s one or two per square mile that are hungry. The small ones no doubt will be content with frogs and mice but the big ones will be on the move looking for something smelly. A hunter can easily display bait and watch it several times in a square mile in a day. The folks I have read about in FL hunting seem to be sticking to trails and only touching a tiny portion of the region. I would bet the snakes are more active at night and rarely getting on the roads.

  7. oiaohm says:

    Robert Pogson against those big snakes dogs are combination bait, scare and detection. Yes if they find a large enough python sooner or latter they will evidentially find one that thinks killing dog is ok. But you will not find a python that will be dumb enough to take on two dogs. Because while eating one the other one will do it harm. Pythons are not stupid.

    Dogs are bait to some pythons and scare to others.

    Reason I know about pythons and dogs. Here in Australia we have carpet snakes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morelia_spilota

    Yes I know small. But when someone is using a chiwawa solo to find them. Sooner or latter the chiwawa becomes lunch. 90 percent plus of the carpets do the run and hide from dog. Its the other percentage that costs you a dog.

    The Morelia Spilota(carpet snake) likes hidding in all kinds of problem locations around cattle yards. Cattle will baulk and possible run back over you when they find one. Yes the danger is not from the snake is from the cattle response to snake.

    So you have dogs trained to search the yard to make sure there are none in there to be problem. Like sunning self on top of gate cap were as human we cannot see them but dog can find them by smell. Ok what is the problem with sunning self on cap rail of gate as cattle come in they hit gate posts rail on top shakes down comes snake and o boy do you have a cattle going in every direction you don’t want. Not that the snake is hurt or had done anything major.

    I would always use bigger cattle dogs. Too large for carpet snakes to consider. Other parties like the chiwawas because they were faster at doing check of yard.

    Python logic is fairly much python logic no matter how small or large.

    Waiting for pythons to come to you for bait can be pointless. You are forgetting they only have to eat 1 per week if you are lucky Robert Pogson. It could be a month if they just had a big feed.

    I don’t think the idea of having to sit around for 7+ days. Hungry python is most likely to bite you. Where a well feed python will be nicer to handle.

    Remember just because they are not eating does not mean they cannot be observing your trap to notice that there mates are being taken away.

    Python hunting is a dog sport. Doing it any other way will lack effectiveness.

    The numbers are kinda insane. 2 dogs + 6 humans at least a team. With the size snakes they have you need at least 6 humans to man handle them once found.

    10K+ pythons to handle I think they will need quite a few dogs. Australian anti-cat/fox usage of dogs you need enough dogs and humans to patrol a boarder area you can keep on moving in. Some area of Australia have managed to kill out cats and foxes.

    1000 humans humans is most likely enough humans problem was the lack of dogs to match up with them to find the pythons. So 1000 humans is 100 teams of 10. So 200 dogs required trained to find python. These dogs could some of the boarder protection dogs.

    Garter snake is a venom snake. Ok non toxic venom to humans. Garter snake are far more active than Pythons.

    Also Garter snakes float. Pythons don’t. Fairly much universal constant. There is no way I would go wandering around Florida Everglades without a python/snake sniffing dog. Most likely you will step on one. Stepping on a python does equal unhappy python and one nasty bite that will get infected. Pythons don’t have poison but there mouth is normally perfect home to nasty bacteria.

    Yes people think of Pythons are friendly and harmless that is only the ones raised in captivity. Ones raised in wild can kill you. In fact if you have a choice between a known poisonous snake and a wild python to pick what one will bite you. If you are in safe range of hospital pick poisonous snake. Anti-venom knows how to deal with what the poisonous snake will give you. If not in safe range of hospital take your luck with python.

    Python is rolling random dice of luck on what it will give you. Might be harmless bacteria in month or it might have a flesh eater or worse bacteria in month. Next few days after bite you will find how bad off you will be.

    So I call what Florida hunters are doing to find pythons is insane. The ones using dogs are fully sane. Know where the snake is avoid being bitten at all costs.

    Yes the big problem with city people they here python think non poisonous so think bite is harmless. So don’t get treatment quickly so die at times from python bite bacteria. Who need to produce vemon when the other stuff living in month will do the same thing.

  8. “Not available in your country”…

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