"Monster" 200-Pound Invasive Python Found in Florida—Why They Can't Be Stopped
It took six people to bring this massive snake down.
Sure, Florida is well known for having a host of weird things happen within its borders. Back in 2019, a couple in the state used their pet alligator to help pull off a gender reveal. Then in 2021, a Florida man who faked being a teen doctor was arrested—and not for the first time. Now, the state is making a name for itself once again thanks to its invasive snake population. Read on to find out more about the 200-pound python found in Florida, and why these creatures can't be stopped.
A 200-pound invasive python was just caught in Florida.
A simple snake sighting is enough to frighten most of us—but imagine if the one you came across was nearly 200 pounds. Conservationist Mike Elfenbein and his teen son were hunting pythons at Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida, when they made the terrifying discovery, CBS News reported. Three other hunters—Trey Barber, Carter Gavlock, and Holden Hunter—saw the snake at the same time as Elfenbein and his son, and together, they were able to take it down.
"We were strangers," Elfenbein said. "But the five of us knew we had to capture this thing."
Elfenbein then called professional python hunter Amy Siewe, who used a captive bolt gun (which is the method of euthanasia approved by the American Veterinary Association) to kill the python, and took it home to determine its measurements. According to Siewe, the female Burmese python turned out to be 17 feet, 2 inches long, and weighed 198 pounds.
The hunters said the snake had "zero fear" of them.
Even with five men on the scene, taking down the 200-pound python was no easy feat. Gavlock first grabbed the snake by the tail, then Elfenbein's son Cole and Gavlock grabbed the head while all five men tried to wrestle the snake to the ground, according to Elfenbein. The conservationist told CBS News that the python went from "flight to fight" quickly and proved to be a "formidable opponent."
It took the five men more than 45 minutes to subdue the snake as she showed "zero fear" of her captors and continued to lift her body off the ground "trying to constrict" them, Elfenbein added.
"It was more than a snake, it was a monster," he said.
This is the second-heaviest python to be captured in Florida so far.
As Elfenbein explained to CBS News, there was no way for the five men to miss the sight of this snake, as its size allowed it to stretch out almost the entire length of the road. The conservationist occasionally hunts Burmese pythons in the 729,000-acre preserve, but had never seen one that large. Even Siewe said that it was "the fattest python" she had ever seen.
"It was hard to comprehend the size," Siewe told CBS News, noting that she has caught 520 pythons since becoming a professional hunter in 2019.
At 198 pounds, this is the second-heaviest python captured to date in Florida, according to Ian Bartoszek, a research manager at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. The heaviest python was captured by biologists in Picayune Strand State Forest and weighed 215 pounds at a length of 18 feet, Bartoszek told CBS News.
Experts say it is unlikely these snakes can be stopped at this point.
These invasive Burmese pythons have been making a home in the southern part of Florida for some time now. According to a report released by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) back in February, it has been confirmed that the snakes had established a breeding population in the state's Everglades National Park by the year 2000.
"The population has since expanded and now occupies much of southern Florida. They consume a wide range of animals and have altered the food web and ecosystems across the Greater Everglades," the USGS noted, describing the invasive Burmese python as "one of the most challenging invasive species management issues worldwide."
In September, Bartoszek also told Insider that the snakes are spreading, as scientists continue to see Burmese pythons "show up in counties further and further to the north" every year. This, along with their large size, has made it likely impossible for these snakes to be stopped at this point.
"With the Burmese python now distributed across more than a thousand square miles of southern Florida, including all of Everglades National Park and areas to the north such as Big Cypress National Preserve, the chances of eliminating the snake completely from the region is low," the USGS confirms on its website.