A veteran Florida python hunter last weekend snagged a record 17-foot snake, a behemoth so immense he said it could "kill any full-grown man."
The South Florida Water Management District said Monday python hunter Jason Leon broke the agency's old record with his kill of a Burmese python in southern Miami-Dade County at around 2:45 a.m. Friday.
"That snake could pretty much kill any full-grown man," Leon told NBC6. "If that snake was alive right now it would probably take like three of us to be able to control that snake."
The 17-foot, 1-inch python, weighing 132 pounds, is the longest ever brought in for the agency's Python Elimination Program. Leon also holds the overall state record with an 18-foot-8-inch python he caught in 2013.
Leon said in a video posted by the SFWMD he spotted the female snake in submerged water, grabbed her and quickly shot her in the head while holding the snake. There was a smaller male python nearby, but he was not captured, Leon said.
“We’re going to find a 20-footer tonight,” he joked after bringing the snake to the district’s field office in Homestead.
The catch on Friday toppled the previous record by Dusty Crum, which measured 16 feet, 11 inches, according to WSVN.
The water district’s Python Elimination Program asks licensed South Florida hunters to remove the invasive animals in order to protect native wildlife.
Since the program began in March, more than 730 pythons have been removed from the Everglades, according to the agency.
The district pays hunters $8.10 an hour as part of the hunt, plus a bounty for each snake caught, and plans to continue until its $125,000 budget runs out, The Miami Herald reported.