Massive Burmese Python Close to 18 Feet Long Captured by Snake Hunter in Florida

A Florida man has been praised by wildlife officials this week after capturing a huge Burmese python in the wild that was nearly 18 feet long.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the reptile was the second-largest snake ever removed by a member of the agency's Python Action Team.

The female python, which spanned 17 feet 9 inches and weighed more than 83 pounds, was found lurking in the Big Cypress National Preserve by a man named Kevin Reich. The FWC revealed the information in a Facebook post yesterday, alongside images showing the length of the snake.

Wildlife experts confirmed that it was almost a record-breaking discovery. The longest python caught by the Action Team, an 18-foot female, was in December last year. The FWC said the longest python ever snared in Florida, caught in 2013, was an 18-feet 9-inches, 128-pound female.

Another large python removed! Python Action Team Member Kevin Reich removed this 17’ 9” Burmese python from the wild!...

Posted by MyFWC on Monday, August 26, 2019

The FWC says Burmese pythons have infested much of South Florida's Everglades. Their spread represents a threat to the native wildlife, which quickly became a source of food. While the average size of a Burmese python removed in Florida is between 8 and 10 feet, the snakes have been known to reach lengths of 26 feet and weights of 200 pounds.

The Everglades Holiday Park has warned the giant pythons will seek to prey on a slew of animals regardless of size, consuming raccoons, rats rabbits, deer and even alligators.

There are currently "tens of thousands" of Burmese pythons living and breeding in Florida's Everglades, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Officially listing Burmese pythons as an "invasive" species, the FWC says it "encourages people to remove and kill pythons from private lands whenever possible." In a Facebook post this week, the agency heaped praise on both hunters and political efforts at population control.

"Men and women like Kevin are making a big difference for our native wildlife," it said, adding: 'Thanks to Governor Ron DeSantis for his leadership and coordination on this issue!"

On Twitter this month, DeSantis described the pythons as "a threat to our Everglades and natural wildlife" and pledged to "preserve the Everglades for generations to come."

On August 7, the governor announced that he was planning to bulk up state resources needed to combat the spread of the snakes. As reported by the Sun-Sentinel newspaper, he touted a "Python Challenge" that will soon see contestants battling to kill as many as possible.

"They're not native to this area and they're an incredibly invasive species," he said. "As these pythons have permeated they've disrupted the natural food chain balance, they've threatened endangered species, they've decimated animal populations.

"They can even eat small alligators. So they've been multiplying. We've been advancing python management policies for several years. There's been some success but we need to do more," DeSantis added, sparking a quick response by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

"We realize that something must be done to fix the exotic-pet trade's mistake, but the true test of a civilization is whether it can solve its problems humanely," the animal rights organization's president, Ingrid Newkirk, said in a statement. "PETA is calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to ensure the requirement of special methods necessary for the humane killing of these animals who have ended up in Florida's swamps through no fault of their own."