(MIAMI) — After a fierce battle near the Everglades, a Florida man bagged a record 18-foot, 8-inch python, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC).
Jason Leon, an amateur python collector, said he was driving in the northwestern part of Miami-Dade County — where the invasive species are known to seek the warm asphalt of the Everglades’ levies at night — when he came upon a three-foot section of snake. He began to tug, he told the FFWCC.
“Jason Leon’s nighttime sighting and capture of a Burmese python of more than 18 feet in length is a notable accomplishment that set a Florida record. The [commission] is grateful to him both for safely removing such a large Burmese python and for reporting its capture,” said Kristen Sommers, exotic species coordination section leader for the FFWCC.
But it wasn’t easy. As soon as Leon seized the animal near its head, it began coiling itself around him, he said. He then knew it was huge, according to the commission, longer than a Chevy Suburban SUV.
Leon said that as the animal began constricting, he had to use a knife to slice the python’s 7-inch-long head off.
The previous record python caught was more than 17 feet long, but weighed 164 pounds and was found with eggs inside, according to the FFWC, which measured the snake.
It is estimated that between 10,000 and 100,000 pythons infest the Everglades. Many of them were said to have been let loose during Hurricane Andrew in 1991, when the storm flattened a python hatchery, apparently flinging pythons like Frisbees into the Everglades. It is also believed many pet pythons were released.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Eliza Mackintosh, CNN
Julia Horowitz, CNN
David Williams, CNN