It was a summer night that snake-fearing Jack Hubbard of Lakeland, Florida, would not soon forget.
In the dark, he peered into the Florida Everglades in search of pythons, not a typical time-filler for someone with a fear of snakes.
By Hubbard’s side was licensed snake hunter Mike Kimmel. Kimmel, owner and operator of Martin County Trapping and Removals, was showing Hubbard what it was like to participate in the area’s python elimination program.
The pair spotted a python in some tall, wet grass. The python appeared to be wrestling something — and winning.
“When we got closer we could tell it was attacking an alligator,” Hubbard sad. “The alligator was almost dead.”
“I think that’s little gator’s done,” Hubbard said on a video he managed to record. “A good size snake, too.”
But Kimmel decided to intervene, grabbing the python. The snake loosened its grip, and the alligator was able to scamper away into the water.
“I got you buddy,” Kimmel told the alligator as he escaped the python’s death grip. “Hold on.”
So why was Kimmel so interested in rescuing one predator from another? Because pythons have become an invasive species in South Florida, causing a host of environmental challenges to the area.
Kimmel is a part of the South Florida Water Management District Python Elimination Program. The program aims to protect Florida’s Everglades from the aggressive invasion of pythons.
“Pythons cause significant impacts to native prey, such as marsh rabbits, wading birds and other warm-blooded animals,” says the program’s website. “Their aggressive predation on native prey robs native predators, such as panthers, raptors, alligators and bobcats, of their primary food sources.”
Hubbard got his chance to hold the snake while Kimmel went to retrieve a sack to hold the python. “You know I’m afraid of snakes, right?” Hubbard said.
The python wrapped its body around Hubbard’s arm, which he described as a “weird feeling.”
In the end, Hubbard conquered his fear, though he didn’t mention whether or not he’d be snake hunting again any time soon.
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