10 of the Biggest Pythons Ever Captured in Florida

At 215 pounds, this nearly 18-foot long Burmese python is the heaviest wild specimen ever captured in Florida. Conservancy of Southwest Florida

Out to rid the Everglades of as many invasive pythons as possible, snake wranglers and research scientists have captured some true giants. Here are the biggest


Jam Massey, a retired Florida park ranger, discovered an 11-foot, 9-inch road-killed snake along the Tamiami Trail in Everglades National Park in October 1979 while out on a first date. The Burmese python was the first one ever taken out of the area. The invasive snakes are now present throughout South Florida in their tens of thousands.
One of the biggest snakes in the world is the burmese python. The non-venomous constrictors can reach lengths of more than 20 feet and weigh as much as 200 pounds across their native area in southeast Asia. Females are typically the heaviest, though this can vary widely depending on how many eggs they are carrying, how recently they last ate, and how much they consumed. A python’s flexible jaws can be unhinged, allowing it to swallow very enormous prey, even, in a few rare but reported cases, grown adults.
Pythons are the target of active, ongoing efforts to reduce their population in Florida, where the invasive species has been wreaking havoc on the Everglades ecosystem for decades. Over the years, expert python hunters, academics, and novice snake handlers have dispatched some truly enormous snakes. Here are the top 10 largest.

1. Longest Florida Python Ever

Professional python hunters Kevin Pavlidis and Ryan Ausburn caught an 18-foot, 9-inch snake on October 2, 2020, making it the longest python to have ever been caught in Florida. The two battled the 104-pound female in a canal approximately 35 miles west of Miami while working for a python-elimination program administered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) and the South Florida Water Management District. It was “a once-in-a-lifetime catch,” wrote Pavlidis, who has captured hundreds of pythons and goes by the online handle snakeaholic. My hands were trembling as I approached her because I had never seen a snake of this magnitude anywhere else, Pavlidis stated. Every snake we capture has the potential to be hazardous, but one this big? Lethal.” (In the feature story, F&S featured Pavlidis and Ausburn.

2. Man Vs. Snake

Jason Leon hefts the coiled beast after a roadside battle; University of Florida researchers put the python’s length in perspective. Florida Fish and Wildlife

The 18-foot, 8-inch female python that Jason Leon and his team managed to capture in a remote area of Miami-Dade County in 2013 held the record for Florida’s longest snake for seven years before Pavlidis and Ausburn broke it in 2020. Leon chased the snake after detecting only 3 feet of its body sticking out from the roadside vegetation. When the snake showed its entire length and started wrapping itself around Leon’s leg, Leon phoned for assistance. He finally used a knife to slay the powerful predator. Scientists at the University of Florida found that the 128-pound female was not pregnant. The FWC reported the snake was at the time the longest in the state and that the previous record-holder for length was a python that measured 17 feet, 7 inches.

3. Big Cypress Behemoth

Python Action Team members Cynthia Downer and Jonathan Lopez show off their 18-foot, 4-inch catch. TKTKTKTK

In order to involve private residents in the state’s python eradication operations, the FWC established a Python Action Team in 2017. More than 900 Burmese python invaders had been removed by 2019 by team members, who are paid to survey and capture them on specific south Florida public lands. Among them was this 18-foot, 4-inch female that Cynthia Downer and Jonathan Lopez had captured on September 20 of that year at Big Cypress National Preserve. The 729,000-acre swamp located less than 50 miles from Miami is home to the largest python ever captured by the crew, weighing 98 pounds, 10 ounces. Just 4 inches shorter of Jason Leon’s 2013 grab, it was also the second-longest wild python ever captured in Florida at the time.

4. Shark Valley Super-Serpent

University of Florida researchers show off the 18-plus-footer. USGS

An 18-foot, 3-inch female python was caught in July 2015 by University of Florida researchers who were looking for python specimens in the Shark Valley region of Everglades National Park. The python, which weighed 133 pounds, was permitted to be handled by National Park Service and US Geological Survey interns before it was put down “to help them acquire confidence and experience,” according to a CBS News report from the time. It had not given birth during the most recent breeding season, according to a necropsy, and its stomach was empty; otherwise, it would have weighed more.

5. Heaviest Florida Python Ever—By Far

Conservancy of Southwest Florida researchers handle the 215-pound colossus. Conservancy of Southwest Florida

When the team made their discovery public in June, a roughly 18-foot-long python that had been taken in December 2021 by scientists from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida was described as the largest python ever discovered outside of its native habitat. It is undoubtedly the heaviest at an incredible 215 pounds. To find the large female, the researchers deployed a scout snake, a male python fitted with a tracking device and released during breeding season. Inside the python, 122 developing eggs were found during a necropsy. The entire account of this beast is available here.

6. Road Kill

In the middle of August, a college student and two friends were snake-hunting in Collier County when they came upon a Burmese python that covered the full width of a two-lane road. Joshua Laquis, a senior at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, told News 6 Orlando that he “all shouted” when he saw the 17-foot, 10-inch python crossing U.S. 41 in the Everglades, together with Jake Waleri and Stephen Gauta, two Glades Boys Python Adventures members he met on Instagram. Laquis remarked, “We’ve all hunted snakes before, but none of us have ever seen something this huge. The three men wrestled for 10 minutes to get control of the 104-pound snake, which died in the conflict, saying “something this enormous was astonishing to watch.” It was simply wild.

7. Big Mama

Florida Museum of Natural History

When it was caught in August 2012, the 17-foot, 7-inch female python was hailed as the biggest snake ever seen in Florida. It weighed 164.5 pounds and had 87 eggs, which was also a state record at the time. American researchers The snake was gathered by the Geological Survey in the Everglades National Park, and it was later brought to the Florida Museum of Natural History for analysis as a part of a lengthy study collaboration with the United States. The Department of the Interior is researching prevention measures for invasive species. The museum still has the snake’s skeleton on display.

8. Burmese Biter

When Mike “Python Cowboy” Kimmel caught this 17 feet, 7 inch, 135 pound snake in July 2020, wildlife officials recorded it as the largest snake ever taken in the South Florida Water Management District. However, the record would be broken three months later by the top snake on this list. The python was captured on an island in the Francis S. Taylor Wildlife Management Area of the Everglades by snake hunter and Florida’s Python Challenge winner Kimmel, who shares his adventures on his well-liked YouTube channel. Kimmel had to use his snake bag as a tourniquet after the python bit deep into his arm.Kimmel shot the snake before bringing it back to his boat because he didn’t have a container large enough to house such a giant creature. For the brave-hearted, you may watch video of the catch here, which includes the bite and subsequent blood loss.

9. Big Mama, the Prequel

Alex Duffie and his 17-plus footer taken from Big Cypress National Preserve. Florida Fish and Wildlife

A clutch of python eggs and hatchlings that were also removed from the wildlife preserve where they were located came with snake hunter Alex Duffie’s 17-foot, 6-inch python. This past July, while looking for snakes in the Big Cypress National Preserve, Duffie, a python removal contractor for the South Florida Water Management District, stumbled upon a 10-foot python on a nest with 18 hatchlings and 23 unhatched eggs. After the mother snake, eggs, and hatchlings all been removed, Duffie spotted another nest nearby, but no snake. The mother was a 17-footer that he was able to subdue with a few other snake hunters the following night when he went back, but not before it took him for a ride. It was crazy, he said.

10. Bagged Beast

Amy Siewe is a professional python hunter who is removing invasive species from South Florida, but according to her Twitter bio, she is also “protecting the Everglades in style” by using the python skins to produce leather goods. Her record-breaking catch was a 110-pound, 17-foot snake that she caught in July 2020. According to Siewe, she saw the python’s head periscoping above tall grass. She placed a bag over its head before sitting on the enormous snake to think about her next step. Eventually, she was able to signal a pair of passing python hunters to assist her in dragging the large female out of the undergrowth.


By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter

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