Python hunters have found a monster slithering around the Everglades.
Snake hunter Jason Leon captured a 5.1-meter (17-foot) Burmese python in the Florida Everglades. Weighing 59.8 kilograms (132 pounds), it’s thought this female could be a record-breaker for the longest snake caught by the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) Python Elimination Program. It was found earlier this week submerged in the water of an SFWMD territory near Big Cypress National Preserve.
“That snake could pretty much kill any full-grown man,” Leon told NBC 6 Miami local news. “If that snake was alive right now, it would probably take like three of us to be able to control that snake.”
As the name suggests, Burmese pythons are native to Southeast Asia. Over the past 50 years, the balmy swamps of southern Florida have become the home of hundreds of pythons, most of which are believed to have been released by pet-owners or escaped. The US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that 99,000 Burmese pythons were imported for the US pet trade between 1996 and 2006.
These snakes are apex predators with a gargantuan appetite for medium-sized mammals and birds, so their introduction to a new environment can have a huge effect on the wider food chains and ecosystem.
“In areas of heavy python population, there is a 99 percent reduction in fur-bearing animals,” SFWMD Python Elimination Program Manager Mike Kirkland told ABC News.
As such, they are treated as an invasive species, with local authorities investing a lot of time and money into capturing and killing this species for the good of the wider ecosystem.
“In total, the hunters have removed 743 pythons. If they were laid out end to end, it would equal over 5,000 feet [1,524 meters] and weigh over 11,000 pounds [4,990 kilograms],” Kirkland added.
There’s no doubt that this is a mighty big beast. However, a few years ago, authorities in Florida caught a Burmese python measuring 5.5 meters (approximately 18 feet). Bigger still, locals on the Indonesian island of Sumatra came across a 7-meter (23-foot) long individual just the other month.