A Miami man briefly wrestled with and ultimately used a knife to kill a Burmese python measuring 18 feet, 8 inches.
That sets a state record for pythons captured or killed in the wild. The previous record measured 17 feet, 7 inches.
Jason Leon was not hunting pythons but, while driving late at night recently in southeast Miami-Dade County, he and a friend spotted about 3 feet of snake protruding from the brush.
Leon applied the brakes, climbed out of the car, grabbed the visible portion of the snake, and began hauling it onto the road.
The giant constrictor responded by trying to wrap its body around one of Leon’s legs, but he was able to dispatch the reptile with a knife.
Burmese pythons are native to grassy marshes of Southeast Asia and can grow to about 23 feet and weigh up to about 200 pounds.
In Florida, where they’ve been released as pets and escaped from wildlife facilities, there are thousands of them, mostly within the Everglades ecosystem.
As such a large and voracious invasive species, they’re a threat to native wildlife. The state would like to eradicate them, if that were possible.
Leon, meanwhile, is being praised.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issued a news release, in which exotic species specialist Kristen Sommers stated:
“The FWC is grateful to him for both safety removing such a large Burmese python and for reporting its capture…With the help of people like Mr. Leon and our ongoing partnerships with other agencies, the FWC is advancing what we know about Burmese pythons in Florida.”
Leon, who said he once owned Burmese pythons and has experience handling the nonpoisonous snakes, reported the capture via a hotline used for reporting exotic species.
The python was delivered to the University of Florida’s Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center where it was measured and a necropsy was performed.