Giant snakes are lurking around the Earth, but Jason Leon accidentally discovered the largest Burmese python ever recorded in the history of the state of Florida. At 18 feet, 8 inches long, the giant female snake weighs in at a hefty 128 pounds.
Leon was driving in a remote region of southeast Miami-Dade County when he spotted the creature laying about three feet from the road late on the night of May 11. After exiting his car, the man grabbed the snake by its head and began dragging it to the road. The snake then began to wrap itself around Leon's legs. Leon then killed the snake with a knife, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
After it was captured, Leon reported his finding to the commission. They then turned the body of the reptile over to the University of Florida Research and Education Center in Fort Lauderdale. It was there that a necropsy was performed and study of the animal undertaken.
Many wildlife officials believe that the species was first released to the wild in Florida during the 1990's by exotic pet owners who raised the giant creatures. Up to 100,000 of the reptiles may now be roaming the wild in the Sunshine State.
"Jason Leon's nighttime sighting and capture of a Burmese python of more than 18 feet in length is a notable accomplishment that set a Florida record," Kristen Sommers, Exotic Species Coordination Section Leader for the commission said. "The FWC is grateful to him both for safely removing such a large Burmese python and for reporting its capture."
Burmese pythons are generally non-aggressive, but they can weigh as much as 200 pounds. Coincidentally, Leon used to collect specimens of the species before doing so became illegal in the state in 2010. They are an invasive species to the area that has a negative impact on the wildlife in the area.
University of Florida scientists stated that the previous record for a Burmese python in the state was 17 feet, 7 inches. That snake was captured in the Everglades National Park last August.
"With the help of people like Mr. Leon and our ongoing partnerships with other agencies, the FWC is advancing what we know about Burmese pythons in Florida," Sommers said.