Two Florida snake hunters caught a beast last week -- a Burmese python that measured a state record 18 feet, 9.25 inches long.
Ryan Ausburn and Kevin Pavlidis caught the record-setting female snake about 35 miles west of Miami in the Everglades on Oct. 2, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The snake broke the state mark by an inch.
The duo noticed a snake’s tail sticking out of the marshes near a levee that is only accessible to licensed python contractors and South Florida Water Management District workers, the Miami Herald reported.
“It took every ounce of my strength to catch that snake,” Ausburn told the newspaper. “I would normally never catch a python by the rear but in this case Kevin was there and was able to get her head once she realized what was happening.”
Ausburn and Pavlidis then had to fight the 104-pound snake, which began thrashing to avoid capture. Angela Scafuro, who accompanied the python hunters, captured the event on video.
“On Friday night we pulled this beast of a snake out of waist-deep water in the middle of the night, deep in the Everglades," Pavlidis wrote on his Facebook page. “I have never seen a snake anywhere near this size and my hands were shaking as I approached her.”
The python, an invasive species in South Florida, was killed by the hunters. Ausburn told the Herald that he has probably captured “a couple hundred” snakes since joining the SFWMD python elimination program. He was hired last year to make footballs made of python skin for Super Bowl LIV when it was held in Miami, the newspaper reported.
“The removal of this behemoth Burmese python is a triumph for our native wildlife and habitats,” FWC Commissioner Rodney Barreto stated in a news release Thursday. “It’s a great example of the partnership between the FWC and the South Florida Water Management District, working under the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis, toward our goal of removing these nonnative predators.”