Biologists wrestle massive 16-foot python from Florida canal

A 16-foot Burmese python was captured recently by a team of experts in Florida, but the massive reptile did not surrender without a struggle.

“It was a large female python. She was upset and thrashed around, taking all hands to restrain her,” Ian Bartoszek, a biologist for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, stated in a news release.

Bartoszek and fellow biologist Ian Sterling were tracking a smaller male python in Collier County with Conservancy board member John Kukk and Kukk’s wife, Julie, when they spotted the giant snake along the edge of a weedy canal.

Burmese pythons are invasive and pose a substantial threat to native wildlife in Florida. The state is in a difficult battle simply to keep their numbers in check and prevent their spread beyond the Everglades.

Breeding-size female pythons represent the largest threat.

Bartoszek stepped in the neck area of the python with a boot and reached to grab its head, while Easterling grabbed the snake closer to its middle.

John and Julie Kukk pose with 16-foot python removed from Everglades region. Photo: Conservancy of Southwest Florida

John Kukk scrambled down the bank and, while knee-deep in the canal, he grabbed the python by its tail.

“After a few minutes of heavy breathing, the hard part was mostly over and the crew tried to get the snake up the steep canal bank and closer to the field truck,” the Conservancy stated.

“Bartoszek held the head with two hands and the snake had wound up tight around Easterling’s leg. It was a bit comical trying to move everyone in unison up the cliff, but after a few laughs they made it to the top and secured the mouth of the snake closed.”

The Conservancy said of the python, which measured 16-plus feet and weighed 120 pounds:

“Her humane removal from the ecosystem will keep an additional 50 invasive pythons from hatching this season and many more over future years. To date, the team has removed over 1,200 pythons weighing over 33,000 pounds from Collier County.”

In June 2022, state biologists captured what they said was the heaviest python they’d encountered. The pregnant snake – containing 122 eggs – weighed 215 pounds and measured 18 feet.

That python had recently consumed a white-tailed deer.

Story originally appeared on For The Win