Florida hunters bag giant python, but this ‘monster’ may still be loose

The recent capture of a 17-foot, 198-pound python in Florida generated national headlines, mostly because it was the second-heaviest python ever caught in the Sunshine State.

The main image showed five men posing with the dead python, which, as one meteorologist remarked, boasted a head “the size of a football.”

Such captures are indeed noteworthy. Burmese pythons are highly invasive and threaten native wildlife. They do not belong in Florida and the state encourages hunting and removal.

But what people rarely see, because the swamp-dwelling reptiles are nocturnal, are giant live pythons roaming in broad daylight.

One remarkable exception occurred last January, when a photographer out birding with friends captured video footage of a massive python slithering across a road in Everglades National Park.

Kym Clark, who captured the footage, recalled the surprise 11 a.m. encounter for ForTheWin Outdoors.

“It was a very random encounter,” Clark said. “There were no hunters or weapons. We never expected this. Once it hit the grass, it vanished completely in seconds.”

Pythons in Florida prey on native mammals, including deer. They also eat birds and other reptiles, including alligators.

Clark said watching the clearly pregnant python escape caused her to take a more active role in helping with eradication efforts.

Hunters pose with the second-largest python ever caught in Florida. Photo: Mike Elfenbein

“She was loaded with eggs,” Clark explained. “From that day on, I started learning how to hunt pythons because I vow to never let them go again.

“I can catch pythons now, but being honest, I’m not sure I could catch her, even today. It would take at least two strong men in my opinion. But I will sure try if I have the opportunity to meet a monster like this again.”

Clark and her friend estimated the python to measure perhaps 18 feet.

After looking at photos of the 17-foot, 198-pound python captured last week, Clark said she believes the python she and her friends encountered “was actually larger than that.”

The heaviest python captured in Florida was an 18-foot, 215-pound specimen killed in Picayune Strand State Forest in 2021. The longest python measured 19 feet but weighed only 125 pounds.

Story originally appeared on For The Win