Earlier this month, Florida python hunters captured and killed the longest python ever documented in the state since the snakes were introduced nearly four decades ago—a 19-footer. Last week, another python record was broken when a contractor with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) found 111 unhatched python eggs in the Everglades.
Brandon Rahe, who works with the FWC’s Python Action Team Removing Invasive Constrictors (PATRIC) program, hit the snake hunter’s jackpot—a 14-foot Burmese python mother and her huge clutch of eggs. “I’m lucky enough to have found (two) active nests so far, helping to remove future generations of monster snakes where they don’t belong,” Rahe wrote on his Facebook page.
His Instagram page features a slow motion video of the moment the mother python lunges out of the nest in defense of her clutch. Raye grabs the 65-pounder by the throat as the huge snake tries to use the force of its coils to pry itself free.
Rahe also posted a 14-minute video on YouTube that summarizes his day’s work. The footage shows Rahe’s boat ride through the wide waterways that lead to his hunting spot, the discovery of the nest, the dramatic capture and bagging of the mother python, and a counting of the eggs. In one scene, as Rahe and his friend try to stretch the beast out, she lays two more eggs.
“She did get a tooth in me, maybe more,” Rahe says in the video as his buddy zooms in on his bloodied wrist and then the python’s teeth. He later tells viewers that the massive serpent will not be killed. Instead, it will be injected with a GPS tracking device and released back into the wild so hunters can find other snakes and scientists can study its movement patterns. The goal, he explains, is to better learn how to cope with their destructive impact on the delicate and iconic subtropical wetland ecosystem that spans two million acres across central and south Florida.
The FWC posted a photo of Rahe and his amazing haul on their Facebook page, using the occasion to recruit more python hunters to participate in their 2023 Florida Python Challenge®, which is open to contractors and non-contractors alike and takes place between August 4 and 13 this year. “Burmese pythons negatively impact the Everglades ecosystem by preying upon and competing with native wildlife,” they say in the post. “The removal of this python and the 111 unhatched eggs helps to prevent future negative impacts to our native wildlife.”