COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — Deputies helping with Hurricane Ian cleanup in South Florida found a slithering surprise hidden among the storm debris.
After receiving a call from a rightfully-concerned resident, deputies from Jacksonville and Collier County captured a 14-foot-long Burmese python just after 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The massive reptile was caught in the bushes between two homes in an East Naples neighborhood.
"When three of the visiting deputies from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office return home they’re going to have a story of hisssstoric proportions to share with their friends," the Collier County Sheriff's Office wrote on Facebook.
"Jacksonville S.O. deputies have been assisting us with hurricane recovery efforts and they have been a tremendous help to our deputies and the community," the post continued.
Because Burmese pythons are an invasive species that pose a threat to our native Florida wildlife, the snake was humanely euthanized and turned over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The deputies' catch comes just a couple of months after the annual Florida Python Challenge, which is the state's way of encouraging residents to help mitigate the harmful effects of the invasive snakes.
This year, nearly 1,000 people from 32 U.S. states, Canada and Latvia slithered down to South Florida to remove 231 Burmese pythons — eight more snakes than last year's competition. The deputies' 14-foot catch was actually about three feet longer than the longest python caught during this year's challenge, which was 11 feet and 0.24 inches.
If snake hunting isn't your thing, you can still help the FWC combat invasive species by reporting sightings to the Invasive Species Hotline at 888-IVE-GOT1 (888-483-4681) or online.