For many of us, the idea of a 16-foot Burmese python wrapping itself around our body in a remote nature reserve in the middle of the night is the stuff of nightmares. But for snake catcher Josh Turner of the Everglades Python Snatchers, it “doesn’t get much more fun than [that].”
“It’s always an adrenaline rush when you come across a python, especially a very large one like this one,” Turner told Newsweek. “They are very powerful and all have their own personality and this particular one was a fighter.”
On Thursday night, Turner and his wife found a Burmese behemoth slithering around in the bushes at the Big Cypress National Reserve in the South of Florida. Turner caught the 88-pound snake with his bare hands, and his wife caught the whole thing on camera.
Burmese pythons are one of the largest species of snakes in the world. They are native to Southeast Asia and, while they are classed as vulnerable to extinction in their native habitat by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, they are an invasive species in Florida and are considered a threat to native wildlife.
Established populations of the snakes were first reported in Florida in 2000. It is thought that these animals were escaped pets or pets that had been intentionally released. Sightings of the snakes are becoming more and more common and just last week an enormous female was seen slithering across a tarmac road in the Everglades National Park in broad daylight.
Turner is a state python contractor for South Florida Water Management District. He has been hunting these invasive reptiles for about four years now, although he has been around snakes his whole life, including “[g]oing snake hunting for native snakes here in Florida as a kid on our bicycles most every night with flashlights and pillow cases to collect them; Keeping snakes in my parents garage as pets growing up; at one point having over 30 snakes; and working at a reptile farm throughout high school.”
The python in the video was turned in alive to state officials and humanely euthanized, according to American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines. It has now undergone a necropsy to help researchers learn more about these troublesome titans.
Should you ever see a Burmese python in Florida, you should inform the state Wildlife Commission immediately.
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