A Miami man pulled an 18-foot Burmese python out of the roadside brush and wrestled with it for 10 minutes before cutting its head off with a knife. The 128-pound specimen turned out to be the biggest Burmese python ever captured in Florida, besting the previous record by more than a foot, wildlife officials said.
“I was pretty exhausted and I didn’t want to get bit,” Jason Leon, 23, said of the decapitation that ended his struggle with the massive constrictor. For his trouble, Leon got thanks from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, which considers Burmese pythons an invasive species that wreak havoc on the state’s ecosystem.
Leon, a college student studying marine biology, said he was riding ATVs with friends in a rural area on May 11 when one of them spotted about three feet of the snake sticking out of some brush.
Leon, who used to keep snakes, had never seen a python in the wild and decided to get up close and personal with this one. It wasn’t until he yanked him out that he realized how big it was. As he held it by the neck, the female wrapped around his leg once, then twice and then headed for his waist.
He kept grappling with it until he became worried it might sink its razor-sharp teeth into him. A friend handed him a nine-inch knife and he sunk it into the snake, he said.
Two days later, Leon called wildlife officials, who took the snake and confirmed it was a record-setter. He agreed to donate the skeleton but has been promised the skin, which he plans to tan and put on his living room wall. Officials said they are grateful the python is no longer roaming the wild and that Leon was not hurt.
“Anytime people are dealing with wildlife, we recommend they use common sense,” Segelson said. “If you’re going to approach a Burmese python of this size, you should have an understanding of what it takes to euthanize it.”
And what it makes me think is, “What the heck gets into people?”
One minute you are cruising along, carefree, happy, the Florida humidity and mosquitoes slowly sapping your will to live, suddenly you think, “hmm, that looks like an invasive giant python, somebody should euthanize it.” So you leap into action, and wrestle the giant beast out of the bushes when suddenly you realize “you know, I don’t really have an end game in mind, maybe I should be armed.” Fortunately, you have a friend there to “hand you a knife.” While this does not seem like your friend may have been taking this seriously enough, it is much better than throwing you a knife from a safe distance, or jumping back on their ATV and riding away, screaming like they had just seen a giant, invasive python trying to crush their friend, which is probably what your friend would have been doing had it been me.
Anyway, my hat is off to you, Mr. Leon, while I believe in civic responsibility as much as the next guy, well…not if the next guy is you, of course. And, sacrificing for the common good. After all, I am a blogger, my first instinct would have been “wow, I wish we would have slowed enough to get a decent picture of that giant, invasive python, it would have made a great Facebook post.”
Rest assured, Mr. Leon, as the wildlife officials in Florida, I am also glad you were not hurt. Maybe we can meet in Louisville sometime, and I will buy you a bourbon because I am sure not going to Florida.
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Originally published on Life, Explained