A Florida man who goes by the name “Alligator Ron” captured a 16-foot-long python beneath a home in the Everglades on Sunday. The snake’s length is near the record size for a Burmese python caught earlier this year.
Brian Van Landingham and Frank Branca were at Possum Head Camp, almost an hour west of Fort Lauderdale, when they first spotted the python. “Alligator Ron” Bergeron was filming an educational video nearby when he got the call about the python, according to the Miami Herald.
Bergeron made the four-mile journey to capture the python, which was about an inch in diameter. He also removed nearly 50 hatching eggs, which could have turned into even more snakes in the Everglades.
“It’s not normal that they’re on a nest and we’re able to remove all their eggs, too,” Bergeron said. “So this was a real great day for the Everglades because we were able to remove about 50 snakes.”
In April this year, four hunters caught a 17-foot female python and 73 developing eggs in the Everglades’ Big Cypress Preserve, which is the record for a snake of that length. However, the one captured in April weighted just 140 pounds, according to an April story in the Miami Herald.
A CBS News report from October indicates that pythons began populating South Florida in the 1980s when people imported them as pets from Southeast Asia. Once these “pet owners” realized they couldn’t take care of pythons as pets, they released them into the wild of the Everglades.
In 1992, Hurricane Andrew swept through South Florida, ripping the roof off a breeding facility, any many escaped. The python, which is one of the five-largest snake species on Earth, began preying on other animals in the wild. They have been known to swallow 7-foot alligators and also a whole deer.
Pythons have wrecked some of the natural order of food chains in the Everglades.
“They’re actually eating possums, raccoon, rabbits, even bobcats,” Bergeron said.
There are still nearly 30,000 pythons in the Everglades, according to researchers. Though they can grow beyond 20-feet long in their natural habitat, most in the Everglades are about 8 to 10 feet in length.
State conservation agencies like the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) have plans to eradicate as many pythons as possible.
“With the governor’s leadership, the FWC, South Florida Water Management (SFWMD) and Everglades National Park, we’re going to continue to put this plan together and put more pressure on the pythons,” said Bergeron, an eighth-generation Gladesman and board member for SFWMD. “I’ve spent most of my life trying to save the Everglades so it’s a great honor for me.”