To bring you up to speed, the Burmese python is a non-native species that has become a significant ecological threat in Florida. Originally from Southeast Asia, these large constrictor snakes were introduced to the area as pets or through accidental releases. Over time, they established thriving populations, posing a serious threat to the native wildlife.
The capture of this giant python underscores the importance of addressing the Burmese python invasion in Florida. These snakes have severely impacted native wildlife, preying on small mammals, birds, alligators, and even some endangered species. As a result of their aggressive predator behavior, nature conservatives, and python hunters have been hunting them down to help balance the ecosystem. But exactly how did these snakes find their way into Florida's ecosystem?
First, in the early 1990s, there was a booming trade in Burmese python snakes as there were many Burmese snake pet lovers. However, the pet owners could not keep up with the snakes' eating demands, leading to losing interest in them. As a result, some owners released them into the wild. With no market to sell their snakes, traders joined in and released them into the wilderness.
Secondly, Hurricane Andrew of 1993 wreaked havoc on an exotic zoo in Miami that housed Burmese python snakes. After the hurricane, the caged snakes were never traced; some are believed to have found their way into Florida ecosystems. Although there are no official estimates as to how many of these snakes are in Florida, it is estimated that the number could be as high as 250,000.
World Record Captures
Jake Waleri joins the ever-growing list of nature conservationists trying to make a difference in Florida. In a news release that followed the catch, he is quoted as saying, "It's awesome to be able to make an impact on South Florida's environment; we love this ecosystem and try to preserve it as much as possible."
His record-breaking python catch measured 19 feet in length or 5.8 meters. At 19 feet, it is the longest Burmese python snake ever caught. In a video shared online, Waleri is first seen holding the snake by its tail as it tries to slither into the woods.
The snake then dashes backward towards him, its mouth wide open to drive its fangs into his flesh. In a swift rejoinder, he grabs the snake by its neck and holds it tight. As it starts coiling around him, his fellow python hunters come to his aid and free him from the python's killer mechanism.
Waleris' python catch is the world's longest Burmese python ever caught. However, weighing 125 pounds, the python was no match to Ian Easterlings' python catch last summer. Easterling, a Nature Conservancy python researcher, holds the record for the heaviest Burmese python ever caught in Florida. His catch weighed 225 pounds, 90 pounds more than Waleris' catch.