A Florida duo known as the “Glades Boys” have captured the state’s longest-ever recorded Burmese python, measuring 19 feet long and weighing 125 pounds. The record catch of the invasive species was verified by a local environmental conservancy.
Naples native Jake Waleri, 22, found the snake in Big Cypress National Preserve at out 1 a.m. on July 10. Video of the catch shows him pulling theout of some roadside grass and wrestling with it as the snake attempts to bite him. The snake was killed, as recommended by wildlife officials, and photos show that it was so long, it could drape across four adults with room to spare.
“Giant is an understatement for this beast,” Waleri and his partner in python-catching-crime Stephen Gauta posted on Instagram. “She clocked in at 579 cm/ 19 feet flat and 125 lbs. even just being able to see a snake this large would be a dream.”
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, a local nonprofit, confirmed the size of the snake, saying it is “officially the longest ever documented.” The previous longest Burmese python, the group said, was 18 feet and 9 inches long.
“We had a feeling that these snakes get this big and now we have clear evidence,” Ian Easterling, a biologist with the conservancy said. “Her genetic material may prove valuable for an eventual understanding of the founding population of South Florida. We will be collecting measurements and samples that will be distributed to our research collaborators.”
Through the conservancy, Waleri added, “It’s awesome to be able to make an impact on South Florida’s environment. We love this ecosystem and try to preserve it as much as possible.”
Burmese pythons are nonvenomous constrictors that have long been an invasive species in Florida, primarily living in and around the Everglades in South Florida. The snake is known to be one of the largest snake species in the world and in Florida, they are on average found to be between 6 feet and 9 feet – roughly a third of the length of the one that now holds the record.
The animals pose a significant threat to other wildlife in the state, as they eat mammals, birds and even alligators, while having few natural predators aside from humans.
Because of this risk, the state has recommended that the snakes be caught and humanely killed. The state offers a “Python Patrol” free training to learn how to identify the snakes and report sightings, as well as how to kill them. To legally kill them, people must use a method that results in the animal immediately losing consciousness before the person destroys their brain.