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Huge, 19-foot, 128-pound Python Sets Records in Florida

May 20, 2013 03:07 PM EDT

A 128-pound Burmese python as long as three grown men was caught and killed in Florida, where officials say the 18-foot, 8 inch snake is the longest ever recorded in the state.

Burmese pythons are considered an invasive species in the Florida Everglades region where the record-breaking snake was found.

Jason Leon spotted a few feet of the snake while out at night in the southeastern part of Miami-Dade county, the local news website Naples News reported. He pulled the snake out from the brush and it began to wrap itself around Leon's leg. Leon reportedly used a knife to kill the snake and called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) to report the event. (A photo of the snake can be found here.) 

"Jason Leon's nighttime sighting and capture of a Burmese python of more than 18 feet in length is a notable accomplishment that set a Florida record," said Kristen Sommers, exotic species coordination section leader for the FWC.

"The FWC is grateful to him both for safely removing such a large Burmese python and for reporting its capture."

The previous record length for a Burmese python captured in Florida was 17 feet, 7 inches.

The snake was found in an area known for its annual Python Challenge, where professional and amateur hunters are invited to trek through  a million of acres of Florida swamp to find and kill the well-camouflaged Burmese pythons.

The month-long event, complete with cash prizes, is seen as a way to control Burmese python populations, which officials contend are threat to the Everglades ecosystem and wildlife.

The most recent Python Challenge in January and February drew 1,600 participants from 38 states and resulted in the capture and death of 68 Burmese pythons.

While Leon's efforts may have broken records in Florida, the nearly 19-foot Burmese python he killed is a fraction of the weight and less than half as long as the 990-pound 49-foot-long reticulated python captured in Indonesia in 2004, which may be the largest python ever found

This article was edited to correct the type of python captured in Indonesia; it was a reticulated python, not a Burmese python. 

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