A Florida woman who set out to enjoy the beginning of the new year with her friends came across an unexpected roadblock last week – a massive Burmese python. The roughly 15-foot-long snake, a species known for being an environmental hazard in the state, was captured on video crossing a road in the Everglades.
Kymberly Strempack Clark posted a video of the encounter on Instagram on January 2, which starts off with a robotic voice saying, “Proceed to the route.” As the voice continues to say this phrase, the camera creeps closer to the snake that had found itself right in the middle of a two-lane road.
“No, Siri, we don’t want to proceed to the route,” Clark captioned the video, saying they estimated the python was at least 15 feet long and on a road about five miles from the entrance to Everglades National Park.
Clark said she and her friends had “started the New Year off with a bang” by encountering some “incredible” wildlife. This one, however, was her favorite.
As she and her friends got closer to the snake, it slowly slithered across the road and back into the surrounding park.
Burmese pythons are nonvenomous constrictors that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has deemed an invasive species. They are primarily found around the Everglades in South Florida.
According to FWC, they are one of the largest snake species in the world, with adult pythons in Florida growing to an average length between 6 and 9 feet. The largest-ever captured in the state was about 18 feet long, the department said.
The snakes’ massive size creates an environment in which they have few predators, allowing them to feast on native species, such as birds, mammals and alligators, and even cats and dogs.
Because of this, the state has said the python must be humanely killed if captured. A humane killing, according to FWC, means that the method for killing the animal must ensure it loses consciousness immediately with a captive bolt or firearm and then destroy its brain by “pithing,” or using a small rod-like instrument to essentially scramble its brain.
However, Clark and her friends were not able to capture the snake, saying instead, that they pinned the location where they found it and reported it to the state.
Many who saw the video questioned why she and her friends did not run it over. Clark responded that doing so likely would have damaged both the car and her friends inside, as well as potentially oncoming vehicles.
“A Python this large can swallow deer and alligators,” she said. “We weren’t even sure it was a Python at first. It’s really easy for everyone to judge me from the sidelines for not running this monster over. Also, technically, they must be killed humanely by law (gun shot to head). I am not even sure if highly qualified trappers could shoot a gun in the middle of Everglades National Park. I don’t even think they are permitted to use their dogs there.”
Nonnative species can be reported to FWC using the IveGot1 app, submitting a form at IveGot1.org or calling the Exotic Species Hotline at 888-483-4681.