We all want to try and make where we live a little bit better. For most of us that means picking up litter or clearing off sidewalks, but Jake Waleri, a 22-year-old in Naples, Florida, that means snake hunting.
What he caught recently might not be for the faint of heat. I hope you don’t have ophidiophobia because your jaw is about to drop when you see this video.
Waleri was walking near a local nature preserve when he saw the largest snake of his life.
The Virginia-Pilot describes the scene: “The python was slithering on the grassy side of a road in the nature preserve when Waleri went behind it and pulled its body toward him, a video he posted on his Instagram shows, the snake’s head facing him. The snake lunged toward Waleri, and within a split second, he grabbed its neck with his right hand.
With both hands wrapped around the python’s neck, Waleri wrestled on top of it, the snake’s mouth wide open, staring Waleri in the face at one point while he laid on top of it. With the help of his group, Waleri stood up while still holding the snake’s head with two hands.”
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At 19 feet from head to tail, Jake caught the biggest Burmese python ever recorded in Florida’s history. The snake was as long as a giraffe is tall.
Burmese pythons are one of the largest snakes on the planet. They’re also an invasive species running rampant through much of southern Florida. They’re wreaking havoc on the state’s native animal populations because the pythons have no natural predators in Florida, which is why Waleri spends his nights hunting these monstrous predators, writes NPR.
“It’s awesome to be able to make an impact on South Florida’s environment,” he said in the news release. “We love this ecosystem and try to preserve it as much as possible.”
The previous record was set in 2020, by a python caught in the Everglades stretching 18-feet-9-inches and weighing 104 pounds. The record for the heaviest Burmese python ever captured was set by one caught by the Conservancy in June 2022, at a whopping 215 pounds, the conservancy said.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, these pythons pose such a big threat that hunters and residents alike don’t need a permit to kill them. The reptiles are, however, protected by anti-cruelty laws, which require hunters to humanely kill the snakes.
The proliferation of Burmese pythons in Florida has become a significant ecological and environmental challenge. Originally introduced to the region as exotic pets, these large constrictor snakes have established a breeding population in the wild, particularly within the Everglades ecosystem. Their rapid expansion and predatory behavior have led to detrimental impacts on the native wildlife and overall ecosystem dynamics.
Burmese pythons are formidable predators that prey on a wide range of native species, including birds, mammals, and reptiles. Their voracious appetite and lack of natural predators in the region have disrupted the delicate balance of the food chain. This has resulted in declining populations of native animals, some of which are already threatened or endangered.
That’s why guys like Jake are out there taking care of business.