The semantics – Why the cast of Swamp People: Serpent Invasion capture their snakes alive

The cast of Swamp People: Serpent Invasion is gentler on this show, but there are several good reasons why they capture their snakes alive.

Fans have been tuning in to watch the cast of History’s hit docuseries, Swamp People, hunt alligators in Louisiana’s swamplands for over a decade.

But fans who have watched this show’s slithery spin-off, Swamp People: Serpent Invasion, have noticed that it features considerably less guns and blood than the original show.

How Swamp People: Serpent Invasion works behind-the-scenes

If you are a longtime fan of the Swamp People franchise, you will already know that the show’s cast cannot just go out to hunt alligators all willy-nilly.

In fact, there are strict licensing and tag regulations which ensure that the hunters’ activities do not interfere with the health of Louisiana’s swamp life and the larger ecosystems in the area.

And the same can be said for the snakes that are the hunters’ targets on Swamp People: Serpent Invasion.

While it is true that non-native species, such as the Burmese python, pose a considerable threat to native species – there are still strict regulations and rules surrounding the hunting of these snakes.

This is why the cast of Swamp People: Serpent Invasion are considerably gentler with the capturing of snakes in Florida’s Everglades than they are when they are hunting gators in the Louisiana Swamps.

Swamp People: Serpent Invasion in a nutshell

Hunting alligators in the swamp requires a very specific skillset, but it turns out that many of the Swamp People franchise’s biggest stars were able to apply these skills to keep the population of non-native snakes in Florida’s Everglades at bay.

And so, the Swamp People: Serpent Invasion spin-off show was born. All in all, Swamp People: Serpent Invasion can be summarized as follows:

Season Episodes Initial air dates
Season 1 4 March 12, 2020 to April 2, 2020
Season 2 8 December 3, 2020 to January 28, 2021
Season 3 16 January 5, 2023 to April 27, 2023
Season 4 16 February 15, 2024 to May 30, 2024

Understanding how the Python Elimination Program works

The invasion of non-native snakes into Florida’s natural areas has become such a problem for the delicate ecosystem that the authorities have initiated several programs aimed at preventing their numbers from climbing even higher.

This includes initiatives such as the Python Elimination Program from the The South Florida Water Management District Governing Board (which “incentivizes a limited number of public-spirited individuals to humanely euthanize these destructive snakes”) and the Python Pickup Program, instituted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and more.

However, the sign-off from the powers-that-be to eliminate these destructive snakes does not come without its fair share of red tape.

Catching pythons can earn the hunters up to $18.00 an hour (plus an additional $50.00 bonus for pythons measuring up to four feet, an additional $25.00 for every foot beyond four feet and an additional $200.00 for every verified nest) through the Python Elimination Program.

But, in order to qualify for these benefits, the hunters need to ensure that they euthanize the snakes that they have caught humanely.

What does it mean to humanely euthanize these snakes?

Therefore, while it may seem like it is much quicker and simpler for the cast of Swamp People: Serpent Invasion to kill their snakes on the spot – there is a very good reason why they do not hunt this way.

According to the FWC (and the Florida Python Challenge rules) euthanizing a python humanely requires a two-step process, in which the hunter first has to render the animal unconscious and then use a process called “pithing” to destroy the animal’s brain.

This results in less stress and pain for the animal involved and it is the only way for the Swamp People: Serpent Invasion cast to ensure that they get the highest possible returns for their hunting efforts.

There are also other factors that the hunters need to consider

There are also other factors that the Swamp People: Serpent Invasion cast have to consider when they are hunting for snakes in the Everglades (beyond the animals’ health and their rewards, of course).

This includes factors such as the regulations and safety concerns around firing guns on public land. It also includes the damage to the snake skin and the meat from the animal which could be damaged quite easily by a rogue shot but should remain intact with humane euthanasia.

In the end, it seems like there is a whole boat-load of reasons why we never see the cast of Swamp People: Serpent Invasion fire off shots like they do on the original Swamp People show.