Burmese python

DANIEL BOCK / FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

Florida wildlife officials are hosting another snake hunt, but they don't want to call it a hunt. It's the Python Challenge. It's not likely to put much of a dent on the growing population of the invasive species, but that doesn't mean the event will be a failure.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

When exotic pets get too big, noisy or hungry to handle, their owners sometimes feel they have no choice but to release them into the wild.  

That’s the main reason Burmese pythons and other big snakes got a foothold in the Everglades, where they're wreaking havoc on native ecosystems.  But help is on the way for South Florida's overwhelmed exotic pet owners.

nps.gov

If you’re an outdoorsy type, Florida wildlife officials have a job for you.

But there’s a catch. Actually, several catches – all with very sharp teeth.

In the United States, the only place you’ll find an American crocodile in the wild is South Florida. It used to be an endangered species.

But not anymore.

Carla Dove smiles as she tears open a small, flat cardboard box. She is sitting at a lab bench in her office at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

"It's kind of like Christmas for me because I never know what's going to be in the packages," she says.

Inside the box are a bunch of sealed sandwich-size bags. Dove counts the bags.

"Eight samples today," she notes. Each sample consists of grayish pieces of feathers, and sometimes bones, all from inside the stomachs and intestines of Burmese pythons.

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission

Jason Leon said he has two regrets about slicing the head off the longest Burmese python recorded in Florida:

He wishes he didn’t have to slay the beast, and he wishes his bedroom walls were big enough to mount the snake’s skin.

“I’m actually really mad I had to kill it,” Leon, 23, said Monday.

“But at one point it coiled around both of my legs and my waist, and I wasn’t going to take a chance on letting that thing get to my neck.”

Nine Awesome Everglades Animals (Aside From The Alligator)

Apr 12, 2013
Tricia Woolfenden / WLRN

Is there any animal more closely associated with the Everglades than the American alligator? OK, the Burmese python has been the 'glades press "darling" as of late, but invasive, non-natives do not count for the purposes of celebrating the Everglades. While Florida's iconic reptilian king deserves all of the attention it gets, there are plenty of other cool critters that inhabit the Everglades.