Our topic today is “Only in Florida”.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that all that weird stuff that happens in Florida has now spread to the rest of the country--especially Washington D.C.--so Florida can’t claim to be the weirdest state in the Union.
I’m sorry to inform you that you’re wrong. Florida has an iron grip on the title and will never relinquish it. To prove my point, let me tip you to a story about the 215 pound Burmese python that was recently caught in the Everglades. I have attached a photograph of this immense creature so you won’t think I’m making this up after a little too much Whispering Angel. “She” was 18 feet long and her last meal was an adult male white-tailed deer. Burp.
She was probably hungry because she was pregnant with 122 eggs—little Burmese pythons in training. The researchers who caught her said that as the eggs developed, she would have gained even more weight. The largest female caught prior to this one weighed in at 185 pounds so Weight Watchers is definitely not working.
They caught her the old-fashioned way: by following a somewhat horny male python that had been tagged with a radio locator. She was found in the Picayune State Park in Naples which made me very glad I decided to live in Sarasota. According to the researchers, she did not want to be caught and communicated this by coiling her tail up into a ball and punching one of the men in the face. I’m not sure if I can fault her for this, especially if this man had come from Washington D.C.
In case you’re wondering why researchers would tromp off to the Everglades to catch snakes, first remember that most of the researchers were men. Moving on. Burmese Pythons are a plague in the Everglades. They eat a lot of the animals that the endangered Florida panther usually has for dinner (like said deer). They’re classified as prohibited species which means you can’t bring them into the country (a lot of good that did).
No one has any idea how many Pythons are loose in the Everglades. Lots and lots and lots is the official estimate. In order to help control these very loose numbers, Florida has implemented a “Python removal program” which runs for two weeks every August. Hunters, trappers and other people with nothing to do in August arrive to compete for cash prizes and a great selfie. The Grand Prize is $2,500 for the most pythons caught. The Grand Prize for longest python is $1,500 (no stretching allowed). Active duty and veteran military personnel are eligible for some unknown “additional” prizes if they win one of the grand prizes.
Last year, 600 cammo-clad pythoneers from 25 states joined in the fun. Dogs, drones, local knowledge and a lot of bumbling around in the woods are the professional techniques used to locate pythons during this event. For your own safety, it’s probably best to stay away from Big Cypress National Preserve and any of Florida’s other swampy parts (like Tallahassee and Mar-a-Lago) during the first few weeks in August.