USA: "It was a fight": Longest ever measured Burmese python killed by hunters in Florida

Burmese pythons are a plague in Florida.

USA: "It was a fight": Longest ever measured Burmese python killed by hunters in Florida

Burmese pythons are a plague in Florida. The invasive reptiles are a threat to native wildlife, which is why state officials officially call for the snake hunt every year, even offering thousands of dollars in cash prizes for the most and largest specimens caught. A student from Naples should almost certainly have one of these awards. Jake Walerie, 22, has caught the longest python ever officially recorded at the Big Cypress Conservancy, the conservation organization Conservancy of Southwest Florida reports.

"In the early hours of July 10, a group of passionate python hunters captured a female Burmese python," the environmentalists write on their website. "The team was interested in knowing the full size of their prey and contacted the Conservancy of Southwest Florida python team to have it measured."

The result was also impressive for the conservationists: the reptile was 5.79 meters long and thus presumably the longest Burmese python ever documented. The previous record holder was also discovered in Florida in October 2020 and measured 5.71 meters.

The catch is a dream come true, says Walerie in a video from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. He knew he could do it, but didn't think it would happen. "Last year my cousin and I caught a snake that was almost 18 feet long and we realized we could handle a snake that size." Nevertheless, the capture of the python was "crazy" and "very chaotic". After initial difficulties in taming him, Valeri threw herself on him.

"At first I was just holding on to the tail to save my life. Then one of my friends grabbed a net and tried to grab the snake's head, and we quickly realized that wasn't a successful strategy," said Valeri, who has been hunting snakes since 2020. It took several minutes for them to get their heads together. "It was a fight. And it was a good one. Definitely one to remember."

Biologist Ian Easterling of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida suggests the snake may have recently laid more than 100 eggs and was in search of its next meal. "We suspected these snakes would get this big, and now we have definite proof," Easterling said. "Their genetic material could prove valuable for a possible understanding of the founder population in South Florida. We will collect measurements and samples that we will share with our research colleagues."

According to the authorities, hunting pythons is necessary. "This is important because every python removed is one less invasive species that threatens our native birds, mammals and reptiles," Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis, wife of Gov. Ron Desantis, said last year at the opening of the python hunt.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the reptiles, which are actually native to Southeast Asia, first appeared in Florida in 1979. "They were introduced by accidental and deliberate release through the exotic pet trade in Florida," a spokesman for the commission told CNN. Since then, they've preyed on rabbits, possums, bobcats, and even alligators, causing great harm to local wildlife. Most fur animals in the Everglades have already disappeared.

Quellen: Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Associated Press, CNN, Live Science