Conservancy of Southwest Florida

Python World Record Busted by College Students with a 19-Foot, 125-Pound Snake

The massive, 125-pound snake was captured by a 22-year-old hunter and his friends who had never been hunting before.

A new Burmese python has been crowned the longest to ever be caught in Florida. The new queen was captured by 22-year-old Jake Waleri, a college student and python hunter, along with his buddies who quite literally tackled the 19-foot giant into submission.

The local hunters captured the snake in South Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve. This catch comes on the heels of a different hunter capturing a pregnant Burmese python with an insane 60 eggs that had yet to be laid.

The former record holder was caught in 2020 and was 18 feet, nine inches long, and weighed 104 pounds.

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Looking back at the capture, Waleri admits that he and his friends were a little in over their heads at first—understandable considering the others were mostly amateur hunters and their catch was 125 pounds. He told WINK News, "We were getting ourselves into a fight that was a little bit trickier than we first anticipated."

They tried to capture the 125-pound reptile with a net, but that did not work. So Waleri tried a different approach.

"I originally walked up to it, thinking I could just come behind it and grab its head like a normal grab, but then the snake went absolutely crazy," Waleri said. "It was trying to wrap me up trying to strangle me and my friends. Luckily, were able to pull it off, and you know, we were able to capture this thing safely."

The young men got an assist from fellow python hunter Amy Siewe who happened to be in the area at the time. Siewe helped Waleri tape up the python's mouth. Waleri's mom Ana told WINK she's always encouraged him to "be the best" at whatever he does, but "they really did it this time."

"You wake up to a text, that's a picture of them, you know, with the friends draped with the snake across their shoulders, and you think 'well, that's great.' And then later the next morning, I got a video of Jake having to literally throw himself at the python and capture it by himself, and that's when my heart stopped," Ana said to WINK News.

The video has since been posted onto the Instagram page Waleri shares with fellow hunter, Stephen Gauta showing Jake wrestling with the monster of a snake, which almost got him a few times.

Gauta said, "This one just blew me away when I came up to it and saw what he had caught."

The hunters took the snake to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in Waleri's hometown of Naples. Conservancy officials took the official measurement and weight of the snake, verifying that it has set a new world record. They also determined that the snake was well over 20 years old. The Conservancy plans on running tests on the massive snake to learn more about her.

Burmese pythons are an invasive species that pose a huge threat to Florida's natural ecosystem, eating rabbits, foxes, deer, and even people's house pets. Since there are so many snakes in the state, Florida hosts an annual Florida Python Challenge to cut down the population numbers. Both professional hunters and amateurs participate in the competition where prizes range from $1,000 to $10,000. While killing these massive and in some cases old pythons may seem cruel, it's all done in the name of conservation. Preserving the native animal species is Waleri's why.

"It's awesome to be able to make an impact on South Florida's environment," he said in a Conservancy news release. "We love this ecosystem and try to preserve it as much as possible."

READ MORE: Florida Snake Hunter Bags 16-Foot Burmese Python Loaded With 60 Eggs