Meet “Dorothy,” the Burmese Python, Python bivittatus!

Tue November 12, 2019



The Burmese python is the third largest snake in the world, capable of exceeding 18 feet in length and 200 pounds in weight. Although native to Southeast Asia, these snakes are now common throughout southern Florida. Hurricane Andrew seriously damaged a Miami-area breeding facility in 1992, and many of these animals escaped into the wild. This massive storm was not only responsible for this well-known breeding facility escape, but numerous other captive snakes were liberated from other Florida facilities at the same time.


With a lifespan that can exceed 15 years, and capable of laying up to 100 eggs a year, these snakes have been reproducing at a substantial rate. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, current population estimates for this particular species hover in the tens of thousands, although some scientists fear a more realistic approximation is in the hundreds of thousands. An apex predator, they not only compete against, but consume American alligators, Florida panthers, and other predators. This has had a serious, negative impact on the delicate ecological balance of the Florida Everglades and other neighboring protected habitats.

Our Dorothy arrived at the center in 2015, frightened and defensive. An unwanted pet, she was kept in terrible conditions, deprived of exercise and adequate handling. This resulted in her becoming overweight, unhealthy, and fearful. Our staff immediately began a program of a carefully managed diet and daily (increasing) interaction (ranging from merely stroking her in the beginning to eventually gently lifting her). With time and patience, Dorothy became the 19-foot gentle giant we know today. Oftentimes she can be spotted slithering about the courtyard at Elawa Farm, taking in the sunshine while greeting visitors.

We invite you to drop by the WDC and visit Dorothy in our main exhibit hall. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to help with her care, please earmark your check “WDC animal care – Dorothy” and send it to Rob Carmichael at The Wildlife Discovery Center, 1401 Middlefork Drive, Lake Forest, IL 60045.

Dorothy, her friends, and everyone at the WDC thank you for your support!