I honestly didn’t know snakes could get this big. Mind boggling really that these creatures can grow to 17 feet long and thicker than somebody’s head! It’s the kind of thing you would see in a completely unrealistic sci-fi movie or the stuff nightmares are made of. Can you imagine one man trying to wrangle such a beast? Well the self confessed, part time python hunter Dusty Crum, did just this while out hunting for them as part of an eradication project in the Florida Everglades where the snakes are seen as a pest.
Mr Drum also goes by the nickname of ‘The Wildman’, with his bushy grey beard and long hair hiding under a cap. He couldn’t help but beam with pride after reporters flooded in at the word of one of the biggest pythons to ever be caught in the area. With the catch, animal lovers/protesters won’t be too happy, as 80 odd eggs that were inside the snakes pregnant belly were all removed and disposed of. The whole point of the project is to stop the pythons from breeding and cut down on the numbers inside the park.
The project is paying hunters a rather small sum of about $8 dollars an hour but that does come with incentives. The longer the snake the higher the pay. Any captured beast coming in at atleast four feet in length nets the catcher 50 bucks. For every foot over four feet they also net a further 25 dollars so The Wildman will not go hungry after this history making haul. He managed to make just under $400 from the one of a kind catch. Hunters also get an extra 100 dollars if they find one holding onto eggs.
You would think this would be the largest python to ever be captured in the national park but an 18 foot monster was caught in previous years weighing in at over 150 pounds. While animal activists might be up in arms about the mass python cullings going on in the area, the Everglades are littered with many thousands of these snakes. It has been reported that there could be up to a few hundred thousand of them in southern Florida. If not contained could lead to them ending up in peoples yards or inside their homes of neighboring areas.
The snakes are known to eat quite large animals, biting and suffocating them first then swallowing them whole and digesting them inside their stretched stomachs. They have a taste for prey such as rabbits, panthers and bobcats. They’ve even been known to eat alligators if they can’t get their mouths on smaller and easier targets.
The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD for short) has 25 snake hunters on board their program and has given them basically unlimited access to the Everglades. Their effort to bring down numbers and stop them from breeding out of control is also largely to stop them from killing off other breeds of animals in the area. Crums gigantic catch wasn’t the only one made this season. Even if the others weren’t quite 17 foot there’s been a number of other snakes caught measuring in at more than 10 feet.