Two Florida snake hunters have one monster of a story to tell after capturing a 15-foot python in the Everglades. The huge reptile put up one heck of a fight after crossing paths with the men on Saturday.
“The first day of the challenge, we caught the biggest snake,” snake trapper Nicholas Banos said during an interview with WSVN.
15-foot python captured in Florida Everglades https://t.co/rzdOtRmNcZ
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Nicholas Banos was referencing the annual Florida snake hunt known as the Everglades’ Python Challenge. He was snake hunting with his friend, Leonardo Sanchez, when they found the 144-pound python. They were driving around slowly in a van in the designated hunting area over the weekend after the official launch of the annual hunt.
“I saw a little gloss and I saw a big square brown patch and automatically, I knew what it was,” Sanchez continued. He then shouted, “Python! Python,” to his partner as soon as he spotted the 15-foot python.
The Python Challenge is a pilot program started to help rid the Everglades National Park area from the invasive non-native Burmese python. A total of 25 hunters were chosen from a group of 1,000 applicants to hunt and find the snakes so they could be euthanized. The $175,000 pilot program sponsors hunts to help save native species from the gigantic predators, CNN notes. The South Florida Water Management District runs the 2-month hunt that ends on June 1.
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The pair of South Florida snake hunters wrestled with the 144-pound python for several minutes before they were ultimately able to maneuver the snake into a bag, secure it, and put it in the back of their van.
Banos said they spotted the python right after they got out of their vehicle and a wrestling match quickly ensued.
“Second I get out of the car and I look over, it’s this big python stretched there where the trees meet the water. And when we jumped at it, he goes and grabs it by the tail. I started to try to pull it so it won’t go into the water, and the snake just straight turns around and bee-lines towards my face. And that’s when he [Sanchez] came in and he jumped from behind and grabbed it by the head and he even got nipped a couple times.”
The overall goal of the python challenge is capture and remove as many of the snakes as possible. Pythons have no natural predators in the Everglades, and they are devouring native species, such as birds, raccoons, and deer, at an almost alarming rate.
Nicholas Banos also said he and his friend are not hunting for sport or with a desire to kill. They are among the many other 2017 Python Challenge hunters who are eager to help catch and remove the Burmese pythons from the Florida Everglades to prevent further destruction of the native species population. The South Florida snake trapper said the entire experience was a “little rough” and left them feeling a somewhat heartbroken, but also deemed doing their part to help prevent the growth of the highly invasive pythons “satisfying.”
University of Florida researchers are not sure if the release of Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades was intentional but accidental. The college staffers do believe no matter how or why the snakes materialized in the area, it was a rather significant release of pythons which prompted such a large population to consistently grow in number over the years.
Pythons are native to Southeast Asia and were first noticed in the Everglades National Park area in the 1970s. Since the annual python challenge began in 2013, a total of 174 of the snakes have been captured and euthanized.
[Featured Image by Chin Kit Sen/Shutterstock]