Florida just can’t stop over-the-topping itself.
Self-proclaimed “snakeaholics” Ryan Ausburn and Kevin Pavlidis have tracked-down an 18.9-foot Burmese python, setting a new record in the Sunshine State over the previous one set by a serpent that was just one-tenth of a foot shorter.
Both members of Florida Fish and Wildlife’s Python Action Team, the two found the female snake slinking through the swampy Everglades region — and filmed the capture on October 2, just before midnight. The effort to pull the creature out of “waist-deep water” in the dark took “every ounce of strength,” they said.
“I have never seen a snake anywhere near this size and my hands were shaking as I approached her,” Pavlidis wrote on Facebook. “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,” said the snake expert, who claims he’s brought in more than 400 snakes in just two years. However, nothing has come close to the 104-pound “beast” they found last week.
The snake was partially out of the water by the time Pavlidis and Ausburn got close to her.
“I knew she had some size but it wasn’t until we walked to the waters edge did I realize how big,” said Ausburn in a separate post. “Usually one of us would go for the head, but her head was a good 3-4 feet out in the water.”
Careful not to “spook” the snake by splashing too much, Ausburn secured her tail end while Pavlidis began “working for the head.” She “immediately turned back and anchored herself around a tree.”
“I then kept fighting to keep her from pulling her head loose while [Pavlidis] kept her from wrapping me up. It may not look like it, but it was an absolute battle,” Ausburn wrote.
The snake was officially measured for the record books on October 8, CBS Miami reported, and deemed the largest yet by the South Florida Water Management District, the agency overseeing the state’s python-trapping campaign. Since 2017, they’ve paid hunters to help them remove over 5,000 Burmese pythons, an invasive species in the Everglades.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said on Facebook, “The removal of this female snake is a triumph for our native wildlife and habitats and a great example of the partnership between our two programs working toward our goal of removing nonnative pythons.”
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