MIAMI, FL – Kevin Pavlidis and Ryan Ausburn set a new record in Florida when they caught and killed an 18.9-foot Burmese python in the Everglades, the New York Post reported on October 9.
The snake was found “along the L-28 Tieback Canal about 35 miles west of Miami,” CBS Miami reported.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission posted on Facebook, “Record-breaker! Members of our Python Action Team and the South Florida Water Management District Python Elimination Program captured an 18 foot, 9 inch Burmese python. That’s a new record! Ryan Ausburn and Kevin Pavlidis caught the behemoth of a snake weighing a whopping 104 pounds. The removal of this female snake is a triumph for our native wildlife and habitats and a great example of the partnership between our two programs working toward our goal of removing nonnative pythons. Find out more about the Python Action Team: MyFWC.com/Python.”
Pavlidis and Ausburn, “found the female snake slinking through the swampy Everglades region — and filmed the capture on October 2, just before midnight,” the Post reported, adding that “the effort to pull the creature out of ‘waist-deep water’ in the dark took ‘every ounce of strength,’ they said.”
Pavlidis posted on Facebook, “I have never seen a snake anywhere near this size and my hands were shaking as I approached her. Every python we catch can be potentially dangerous, but one this size? Lethal. One mistake, and I am for sure going to the hospital.”
“But more importantly, this is a once in a lifetime snake. I could go out every single night for the rest of my life and never see one this big again,” said snake expert, Pavlidis, “who claims he’s brought in more than 400 snakes in just two years,” the Post reported, adding that by the time the two approached, the snake was “partially out of the water.”
Ausburn said in his own Facebook post, “I knew she had some size but it wasn’t until we walked to the water’s edge did I realize how big, usually one of us would go for the head, but her head was a good 3-4 feet out in the water.”
“Careful not to ‘spook’ the snake by splashing too much, Ausburn secured her tail end while Pavlidis began ‘working for the head,’” and “she ‘immediately turned back and anchored herself around a tree,’” the Post reported.
“I then kept fighting to keep her from pulling her head loose while [Pavlidis] kept her from wrapping me up. It may not look like it, but it was an absolute battle,” Ausburn posted on Facebook, the Post reported.
According to CBS Miami, “the snake was officially measured for the record books on October 8,” and was “deemed the largest yet by the South Florida Water Management District, the agency overseeing the state’s python-trapping campaign,” the Post reported, adding that “since 2017, they’ve paid hunters to help them remove over 5,000 Burmese pythons, an invasive species in the Everglades.”
“The Burmese python is a large nonvenomous constrictor that is an invasive species in Florida,” according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website which adds that “Burmese pythons are found primarily in and around the Everglades ecosystem in south Florida where the snake represents a threat to native wildlife” and “Python Action Team Members are paid to remove and turn pythons in to the FWC.”