It's nesting season for invasive Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades and a well-known snake hunter just bagged an enormous pregnant female. Mike Kimmel, also known as the "Python Cowboy", hunted down the invasive snake with help from his bird dog Otto. A recent photo posted to Instagram shows that he removed more than 60 eggs from the ecosystem in the process.
Kimmel—who sells custom-made leather goods fashioned from python and iguana skin—didn't say where he was in the Everglades when he harvested the giant snake. The area is home to millions of acres of wilderness that have long been overrun with the destructive non-native reptiles.
"A removal like this is absolutely crucial for our native wildlife in that ecosystem and WILL make a difference," he wrote in his July 6 post about the snake. "A python this size can eat anything in the Florida Everglades, as I've proven with the multiple adult alligators that I've rescued from being eaten by pythons (3 separate times)."
Kimmel is no stranger to taking large Burmese pythons and other destructive invasives off of the Florida landscape. He made local headlines back in 2020 when he bagged a 17-foot female python weighing more than 150 pounds. And his Instagram account shows that he's removed a staggering number of pythons, feral hogs, and iguanas since then.
This nesting season, he says he's relying heavily on his dog's keen sense of smell to locate and dig up denning pythons hidden deep underground. "We are up to almost 500 live python eggs removed and we are only half way through the season," Kimmel wrote in another post from May 29. "While most python crews stick to roadways and levees, me and my crew are working hard out in the more remote areas that are left unmanaged."
According to the Global Invasive Species Database, Burmese pythons can exceed 20 feet in length, and the females tend to outmeasure the males. They normally lay between 12 and 36 eggs, but they're capable of producing up to 100 eggs per clutch. Once hatched, a python can thrive in the Everglades for 25 years or more.
The reptiles are native to southeast Asia. They were inadvertently introduced to the Florida Everglades via the exotic pet trade sometime in the 1990s. Recent research suggests that the ecologically harmful snakes are expanding their population numbers and claiming new habitat along the southern end of Lake Okeechobee. That study, conducted by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, called Florida’s python invasion “one of the most intractable invasive-species management problems across the globe.”