Two snake hunters who recently went to the Florida’s Everglades didn’t find a python killing anything, but they did find one that was 15 feet long and weighed 144 pounds.
It happened on the first day Nicholas Banos and Leonardo Sanchez joined a snake hunt called the Everglades’ Python Challenge, a “conservation effort helped protect the rare Everglades ecosystem and the animals that live there from these invasive, nonnative snakes,” according to the website.
Banos posted pictures of the massive snake on Facebook.
“The first day of the challenge, we caught the biggest snake,” Nicholas Banos told WSVN. “[Sanchez] goes, ‘Python, python!’ Second, I get out of the car, it’s this big python stretched there where the trees meet the water,” Banos said, “and when we jumped at it, he goes and grabs it by the tail. The second he grabs it by the tail, the snake starts to bee-line into the trees, so he tells me, ‘Go for the head, go for the head!’ I’m trying to get into the trees, because it’s all over the place.”
“I tried pulling it, so it wouldn’t go into the water, and the snake just straight bee lined towards my face,” he continued. “And that’s when [Sanchez] jumped in, and he jumped from behind, and he grabbed it by the head. He even got nipped a couple times.”
“I saw a little gloss, and I saw a big square brown patch, and automatically, I knew what it was,” Sanchez would add.
Pythons have been challenging the ecosystem of the Everglades for more than a decade.
Here’s what the National Park Service has said about pythons in the Everglades in recent years:
In recent years, snakes from around the world have been turning up in and around Everglades National Park. Burmese pythons, one of the largest snake species on earth, are now known to be breeding in the park and spreading throughout south Florida. Originally from southeast Asia, Burmese pythons are now frequently found in south Florida. More than 2,000 pythons have been removed from the park and surrounding areas since 2002, likely representing only a fraction of the total population.
The population of Burmese pythons presently established in the park is the result of accidental and/or intentional releases by pet owners. These introductions can have devastating consequences to our ecosystem. Burmese pythons have been found to feed on a wide variety of mammals and birds in the Everglades — even the occasional alligator! By preying on native wildlife and competing with other native predators, pythons are seriously impacting the natural order of south Florida’s ecological communities. The continued proliferation of Burmese pythons — and the continued introduction of new foreign species — can further threaten many of the endangered plants and animals we’re working diligently to protect.
“We don’t hunt for sport. We’re not hunting to kill. We hunt to remove. Catch and remove,” Banos explained. “But having to kill it was a little rough. For us, we’ve never really had to do that before, so it was satisfying, but it was also a little bit of heartbreak.”