There’s a serpent in the garden. The serpent is an invasive species of python and the garden is Florida Everglades.
Last weekend, Mike Elfenbein, his son Cole and three other men were in Big Cypress National Preserve when they came across the snake. At first, they took it for an alligator. At the end of a “surreal” struggle, it took all five men to handle the beast, according to WOFL-TV.
Pythons like the one the men happened upon are not native to Florida. They come from Southeast Asia and are considered invasive because they devour holocausts of native wildlife, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The Burmese python is one of the largest snakes on the planet, according to National Geographic. The beasts can grow 23 feet or more in length. They can come in at a whopping 200 pounds and be as big around as a telephone pole.
They don’t belong here. You might say they are some of the biggest illegal aliens from the wilds.
Holden Hunter, Trey Barber and Carter Gavlock were the first to encounter the predator Nov. 3, according to Fox News. The men were on the way back from snook and tarpon fishing when they saw the beast, Hunter told Fox News Digital.
They decided to get out of the vehicle and catch the snake. That’s when Mike Elfenbein and his son Cole arrived on the scene.
“We all came across this giant snake in the road at the exact same time. And it was a good thing we did, because it literally took all five of us to get her under control,” Elfenbein told WOFL.
“It was surreal,” he added. “I don’t even think we recognized she was that big when we put hands on her. It took every bit of energy we had to do this.”
The five men wrestled the snake until a game warden showed up and euthanized the beast.
The snake was big enough to be the second-heaviest Burmese python captured in the Sunshine State, according to WOFL. The Burmese python, after being measured at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, came in at 17 feet, 2 inches long, 23 inches in girth, and weighed 198 pounds.
Hunter and Barber want to have the snake’s skin preserved. Gavlock plans to have the skull mounted.
Gavlock told Fox News Digital, “We do love these animals – they’re a fantastic snake, you know, in captivity and done properly, they can be a super docile animal. They’re just not supposed to be wild in the Everglades. They’re taking out a gross amount of animals out here that are native to the ’Glades.”
Burmese pythons do not just prey on small game — though they do plenty of that — but also are a threat to predators native to the Everglades. The pythons gobble up the food supply and compete with other predators, like Florida’s legendary panthers, according to Fox.
According to Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Commission, there are fewer than 250 of these panthers left in the wild. The Burmese pythons are such a threat that it is against the law to keep them as pets and Florida’s FWC allows them to be killed throughout the year without a license.
Humans are called to be stewards of the earth. This includes the management of invasive species. The average citizen is crucial to this endeavor. And, in this case, the citizens know exactly what they’re doing.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.