Florida officials said that a 19-foot Burmese python that was captured and killed earlier this month set a record, underscoring the state’s problem with the invasive species of snake.
Jason Leon of Miami spotted the massive Burmese python earlier this month while he was driving at night in Miami-Dade County. He saw the snake in the bushes, jumped out of his vehicle, and grabbed the snake before it wrapped around his leg, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
The agency said he then called for assistance but before help arrived, he stabbed the reptile with a knife, killing it.
The snake measured 18 feet and 8 inches in length and weighed 128 pounds. It did not have any eggs inside.
Last year, a Burmese python was measured at 17 feet and 7 inches. However, the snake weighed more than the one caught in May because it had eggs.
“Jason Leon’s nighttime sighting and capture of a Burmese python of more than 18 feet in length is a notable accomplishment that set a Florida record,” the FWC stated. “The FWC is grateful to him both for safely removing such a large Burmese python and for reporting its capture.”
Burmese pythons were first adopted as pets decades before they were released into the wild. They then multiplied and turned into the pest they are today.
Burmese pythons, which are native to Southeast Asia, have exploded in population in recent years, mainly in the Florida Everglades, killing many native species including raccoons, foxes, bobcats, and other mammals, according to LiveScience.com.
Officials believe there are more than 100,000 pythons in the state, prompting officials to set up the 2013 Python Challenge to deal with the invasive species earlier this year.
In some cases, the pythons have killed household pets.
“They’re starting to come back into civilization looking for easy food — our pets,” Scott Mullin of the Miami-Dade Venom One Unit told ABC News in January. “And that’s typically what they’re feeding on — cats, small dogs.”