Burmese Python in the Everglades – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Heiko Kiera
While scouting for pythons at Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve, conservationist Mike Elfenbein and his teenage son noticed the longest snake they had ever seen crawling across the gravel road.
Elfenbein told CBS News, “It was more than a snake; it was a monster.” Elfenbein said he had never seen a snake so big in his 729,000-acre preserve, even though he periodically hunts Burmese pythons.
Holden Hunter, Carter Gavlock, and Trey Barber were the three hunters who witnessed the snake simultaneously. Elfenbein claimed that the snake spanned nearly the entire length of the road, making it impossible to avoid.
“We were strangers,” 45-year-old Elfenbein remarked. “But the five of us knew we had to capture this thing.”
According to Elfenbein, Gavlock was the first to grip the Burmese python by its tail. Then, after Gavlock and his 17-year-old son Cole grabbed the snake’s head, the five men attempted to wrestle it to the ground.
The python, according to Elfenbein, turned from “flight to fight” in a hurry and was a “formidable opponent.” For about forty-five minutes, the five men struggled with the python while perched on her back. The reptile repeatedly raised her body off the ground in an attempt to “constrict” her captors and “keep us out of the way.”
Elfenbein claimed that the python had “zero fear” of her captors.
Professional python hunter Amy Siewe knew something significant was happening when her cellphone rang at about 10 p.m. on Friday, including a call from Elfenbein.
“If Mike is calling me right now, it has to be a python,” Siewe said. She jumped in her truck and hightailed it over to Big Cypress. She pulled her truck up behind the others and then spotted “the fattest python I had ever seen.”
Since turning pro in 2019, Siewe claims to have captured 530 pythons, telling CBS News that “it was hard to comprehend the size.” She murdered the python with a captive bolt gun, the kind of euthanasia authorized by the American Veterinary Association.
After that, she weighed the python at home and registered its measures by calling the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. According to Ian Bartoszek, a research manager at the conservancy, who spoke with CBS News, the female Burmese python measured 17 feet, 2 inches in length, and weighed 198 pounds, making it the second-heaviest python ever captured in Florida.
During the 1970s, the pet trade transported pythons, one of the biggest snake species on the planet, from Southeast Asia to Florida. The number of native mammals has declined by 90 percent, and invasive predators are assumed to be the cause of this reduction. They quickly spread throughout the Everglades environment.
The population of Burmese pythons in the area has been declining with the help of biologists, volunteers, and environmentalists.
The largest Burmese python was 18 feet long and weighed 215 pounds when it was caught by scientists in the Picayune Strand State Forest. According to Bartoszek, the largest python ever caught in Florida was 19 feet long and weighed 125 pounds.
Bartoszek stated that the discovery of white-tailed deer hoof remnants within the python’s stomach served as a reminder that these snakes “are big game hunters.”
“We often see the remains of deer inside Burmese pythons. Their impact throughout the food web of the Greater Everglades ecosystem cannot be understated,” Bartoszek said.
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Mike has more than 30 years of experience in marketing and public relations. He once owned his own agency and has worked with some of the largest brands in the world.