Not the kind of thing you’d want to run into on a fishing trip.
During a routine levee inspection in the Florida Everglades a team of engineers encountered what would later become the second biggest python ever recorded in the state.
The snake, measuring at 18 feet 2 inches, fell short of the state record by 6 inches, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The current record holder is an 18 feet 8 inches python that was discovered by a snake collector last year.
18 Foot Python Found in Florida. Image via: Reuters
Pythons are an invasive species to the Everglades. In Southeast Asia, their native home, they can grow up to 20 feet in length and are voracious feeders. Without their proper ecosystem, damage begins to occur to the food chain, which is currently the case in south Florida with many indigenous species falling prey to the massive beasts.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission officials estimate that there are around 150,000 pythons currently living in the ‘glades. The explosion of snakes comes from python owners who can no longer deal with the size of their pets; instead of taking it to a shelter or re-homing it with another snake lover they typically dump them into nearby waters to be ‘free’.
The pythons tend to hang out on the levees where the engineers were working in order to sun themselves. This snake in particular was killed and will be taken to the University of Florida, where it will be measured and studied by scientists trying to combat the species, according to South Florida Water Management District spokesman Gabe Margasak.
Despite offering cash rewards for the invasive snakes, the FWC reports that they have few people bring any in.
Have you ever encountered a python while fishing? What do you think the FWC could do to get more people to take out this invasive species? Share your thoughts in the comments below.