But what Jason Leon, 23, did next may also break the record for questionable snake behavior—he decided to tussle with it, despite the fact that such constrictors are basically nature’s professional wrestlers.
“Leon stopped his car, grabbed the snake behind its head and started dragging it out of the brush. When the snake began to wrap itself around his leg, he called for assistance from others and then used a knife to kill the snake, ” CBS reported.
Leon, who reportedly has experience handling snakes, emerged unscathed.
For his act of disentanglement Leon is receiving props from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for removing the lengthy reptile from Florida’s wilderness, where pythons are a serious problem.
Originally from India and East Asia, the pythons are considered an invasive species in Florida. Burmese pythons are one of nine species of constrictor snakes, numbering about a million individuals, that have been imported into the United States over the past three decades, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Many of these animals, which can grow to a length of 20 feet (6 meters), have either escaped or been released into the wild, and are especially fond of the Everglades. (See Everglades pictures.)
Though they’re preyed upon by other species while small, when the snakes reach full size they have no natural predators and can wreak havoc on native ecosystems.
Burmese pythons “can eat anything from small mammals, other reptiles, and birds. It kind of runs the gamut, ” said FWC spokesperson Carli Segelson. (Related: “ Pythons Eating Through Everglades Mammals at ‘Astonishing’ Rate?”)
She added that along with consuming native animals, “they also can outcompete native wildlife for food sources.”
Putting the Squeeze on Pythons
This year’s Python Challenge netted 68 snakes in Florida, and Segelson said the program will help determine what the snakes are eating, as well as “how an incentive-based program [can] help cut down on the population.” (“Opinion: Florida’s Great Snake Hunt Is a Cheap Stunt.”)