About Python Skin
People often talk about materials as being "sustainably sourced". But what should you call materials you don't want to sustain? What if your goal is to eliminate them? That's the case with Burmese Python leather from the Florida Everglades.
Burmese Pythons shouldn't actually be in the Everglades. They’re one of the top five largest snakes on earth and are native to the tropical jungles and wetlands of Southeast Asia. Originally brought to Florida as exotic pets, they first started appearing in the Everglades in the 1980’s. Pet owners sometimes released them when they got too big and difficult to care for. Then Hurricane Andrew hit south of Miami in 1992. It destroyed a breeding facility for Burmese Pythons, and thousands of snakes escaped. Today the Everglades are overrun by these giant creatures, and they’ve eaten 90 to 99% of the animals in the area. Worse, now that there are so many snakes and so little food, they’re expanding their territory. They’ve started moving down into the Florida Keys and are threatening some already-endangered species in that area, as well.
Florida is doing everything it can to control this situation. The state employs full-time snake hunters, and has a year-round open season on python hunting. They even hold a week-long competition every year for who can catch the most snakes. Sadly, most of these pythons are too full of mercury to be edible, so they’re just being killed and discarded. This is a tragic and wasteful situation.
Snake hunter Amy Siewe loves snakes and wants to honor these Burmese Pythons in some way. She realized that, while you can’t use their meat, you can at least use their beautiful skins. She captures and skins the pythons herself, then works with a tannery in the USA to turn their skins into leather. Her python skins are what I use for my snakeskin sculptures and handbags. That’s why I prefer to use the phrase “responsibly sourced” rather than “sustainably sourced” to describe my materials.