The absolutely gigantic Burmese python has been pulled from the Everglades by a contracted hunter who just might break Florida’s 18 foot record.
According to CBS Miami, two contract python hunters have brought down the beast of a lifetime. Ryan Ausburn, a contracted python hunter with the South Florida Water Management District – and Kevin “Snakeaholic” Pavlidis, a contracted python hunter with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, could break the Florida state record with this specimen.
What’s Florida’s current record for an invasive Burmese python? 18.8 feet long. That’s longer than the average great white shark.
Pavlidis takes to social media to commemorate their phenomenal catch:
“On Friday night, we pulled this BEAST of a snake out of waist-deep water in the middle of the night, deep in the Everglades. I have never seen a snake anywhere near this size and my hands were shaking as I approached her. Every python we catch can be potentially dangerous, but one this size? Lethal. One mistake, and I am for sure going to the hospital. But more importantly, this is a once in a lifetime snake. I could go out every single night for the rest of my life and never see one this big again.”Kevin “Snakeaholic” Pavlidis
The hunter adds that he has caught at least 400 snakes over the past 2 years, but none have ever come close the size of this latest catch:
Florida’s unprecedented Python problem
These enormous constrictor snakes are no natives to Florida – not even this continent. Popular as pets, Burmese pythons have been kept in homes across the U.S. for decades now. And as any python owner can tell you – they are master escape artists.
Experts now believe that the massive invasive population in the Florida Everglades is the direct result of escaped and/or illegally released pet Burmese pythons. To make matters worse, the Everglades house no predators willing to take down a python. The warm, lush, and wet ecosystem, too, is a perfect fit for their own hunting and nesting habits. Combine all this – and you have the perfect storm for an absolutely destructive, monstrous invasive species.
The snakes were first discovered breeding in Florida nearly two decades ago. Since then, scientists estimate their numbers could have reached 100,000 to 300,000 wild pythons in the Everglades.
As a result, Florida state has a bounty program for the species – and it’s a proven hit. More than 5,000 Burmese pythons have been removed from the wild since the bounties began in 2017.
So how much does a state-funded snake hunter make? According to the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission:
“Registered hunters earn a minimum wage rate for up to 10 hours of work a day, plus a bonus for their catch: $50 for each python measuring up to four feet plus $25 more for each foot measured above four feet. Hunters who catch a nesting female python earn an additional $200.”CBS Miami
Bagging a Burmese python
How does a python bounty hunter go about bagging a snake three times their own height? According to Ryan Ausburn, one of the two hunters responsible for bagging this potential record-breaker – this capture was like no other.
Typically, Ausburn recalls, he would grab a python by the head. This monster, however, had to be taken at her rear. Then, he began trying to pull her out of her habitat – and she didn’t make it easy. “She immediately turned back and anchored herself around a tree,” the hunter adds. “It took every ounce of strength to keep her from slipping away.”
Despite what he recounts as “a real BATTLE”, Ausburn is – above all else – “incredibly grateful for this opportunity.”
“I am just incredibly grateful for this opportunity and an experience I will never forget. Realize what you have when you have it and cherish the experience in the moment. Be grateful, be respected, and be thankful.”Ryan Ausburn
The hunters noted their prize’s size right away, but had no idea just how big she was until they got her out of the water. The Burmese python stands for measurement today to see if she officially breaks the state record. CBS Miami is tweeting live updates on the situation.
[H/T CBS Miami]