68 pythons found — gulp!

Feb. 19, 2013 | 11:00 a.m.
indiana jones and snakes 68 pythons found    gulp!

Harrison Ford, as Indiana Jones, faces his greatest fear in "Raiders of the Lost Ark." (Paramount Pictures)

anacondas the hunt for blood orchid 68 pythons found    gulp!

In the 2004 film, a scientific expedition runs into slithery things as it seeks out a flower called the blood orchid. (Columbia Pictures)

venom 68 pythons found    gulp!

A 1981 horror film featured Klaus Kinski and Oliver Reed, but the real star was a black mamba loose in a house.

snakes on a plane 68 pythons found    gulp!

A Gaboon viper intertwines with the airplane circuitry in New Line Cinema's "Snakes on a Plane." (James Dittiger / newline.wireimage)

fliers not thrilled on snakes on a plane 68 pythons found    gulp!

Fliers get a surprise when the oxygen masks drop in the 2006 film "Snakes on a Plane." (James Dittiger / newline.wireimage)

python the movie 68 pythons found    gulp!

The cast of the 2000 made-for-TV film included Wil Wheaton, Casper Van Dien and Jenny McCarthy. In it a genetically engineered python escapes and terrorizes a small town.

anaconda 68 pythons found    gulp!

Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube and Jon Voight starred in the 1997 original about a film crew taken hostage by a hunter trying to capture the world's biggest snake.

Even if you’re not Indiana Jones, snakes can set your teeth on edge. So, those of us terrified of snakes must tip our fedoras to the brave (or foolhardy?) python hunters of Florida.

The 2013 Python Challenge is over, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has announced that a total of 68 pythons were snared, according to WSVN in Miami.

That’s just a drop in the snake bucket. There are estimated to be tens of thousands of Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades. According to the National Park Service, pythons — one of the largest snake species on Earth — feed on a wide variety of mammals and birds in the Everglades, even gulping down an occasional alligator. The snakes have no known predators.

Thousands of pythons are bred in captivity each year in the U.S. to sell as pets, experts say. Within a year, a hatchling can grow to an 8-foot giant, at which time some owners become understandably nervous — and release them into the wild. Released and escaped Burmese pythons have been breeding for decades in south Florida.

They’re not easy to spot in the Everglades. Their brown-spotted bodies are great camouflage in the brush. But Python Challenge hunters tramped through once again this year, from early January to Feb. 10, hoping to bag cash prizes in various categories.

On Tuesday, the Florida Wildlife Commission announced the largest snake caught in the competition — 14 feet, 3 inches. As the Los Angeles Times’ David Zucchino reports, three snakes were released back into the wild with tracking devices attached. Researchers hope they will lead them back to breeding female snakes that can be captured and removed from the wild.

A group of hunters picked up $1,500 for bringing in the most snakes — 18.

Though just a tiny fraction of the snakes were trapped during the contest, officials said it accomplished one of the main purposes of the event: to educate the public about the damage caused by the Burmese pythons.

The U.S. Geological Survey in 2012 reported that the pythons — “giant constricting snakes native to Asia” — are wiping out mammals in south Florida, squeezing and gobbling up raccoons, bobcats and opossums.

It’s a real-life horror story. For shudders of the fictional variety, flip through the gallery, above, which recalls films featuring snakes that you may recall (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”) and others that you may not (“Venom”).

— Amy Hubbard


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3 Responses to 68 pythons found — gulp!

  1. Justin says:

    Idiotic article. Tens of thousands of snakes? Then why were there only 68 caught? Not to mention the fact that of those 68, the longest ones may have potentially been pets that were turned in just to reap the reward.

  2. David says:

    "Then why were there only 68 caught?" Obviously because the snakes are hard to catch, and not that many humans tried to catch them.

  3. jerry says:

    People are wiping out the animals in the Everglades by invading their habitat and draining the swamps

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