We have a winner! And it wasn’t the python.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, in between battling with President Joe Biden about mask mandates, announced that the 2021 Florida Python Challenge has a new king.
The 10-day event, from July 9-18, resulted in the removal of a record 223 invasive pythons from South Florida, DeSantis said.
Burmese pythons are not native to Florida and have bad effects on native species. They are found primarily in and around the Everglades, where they prey on birds, mammals and other reptiles.
They can grow to be 26 feet long and over 200 pounds when fully grown.
“Invasive Burmese pythons have wreaked havoc in the Everglades, negatively impacting native ecosystem and biodiversity,” DeSantis said.
More than 600 people participated in the risky competition to remove invasive Burmese pythons from the Everglades while raising awareness about the species.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the two biggest snakes removed were more than 15 feet long, one clocking in at almost 16 feet.
“Kudos to participants of the 2021 Florida Python Challenge for removing 223 invasive Burmese pythons from the Everglades ecosystem!” wrote the FWC in a Facebook post.
In addition to the live reptiles, a number of python nests were removed, which will help prevent the snakes from breeding even more, the agency said.
Charlie Dachton, a novice from Southwest Ranches in Broward County, earned the $10,000 Ultimate Grand Prize for collecting a whopping 41 pythons. The local adventurer got a little help from his son Chance, he told WPLG Local 10. Together, they scoured in the dark and encountered a nest with 22 python eggs. A female Burmese python may lay 50 to 100 eggs at a time.
“Every one of those babies becomes a little monster,” Charlie Dachton told the station, “and each one of those monsters reproduce.”
Rounding out the top of the leaderboard was Brandon Call, also a novice, who nabbed a 15-foot, 9-inch long critter.
Professional Dusty “The Wildman” Crum (and one-time “Guardians of the Glades” star) snagged the second longest python at 15 feet, 5 inches.