Florida’s “Python Challenge” may be over – but that’s not stopping Ruben Ramirez from hunting more giant snakes.
The Miami man caught an approximately 10-foot-long Burmese python Monday. He said it was a piece of cake.
“Yes, bare hands, yeah, we don't use anything but just our hands,” Ramirez said.
He explained further, “Grab her by the tail until she tires out a little bit and then we just grab her by the head.”
Ramirez and his three buddies were winners in the recent Python Challenge. He and Florida Python Hunters teammate George Brana took first place for catching the most snakes among permit holders – 18 in 27 days.
“Been doing it all my life! And I mean it still gets your heart pumping, but that's why I do it,” Brana said.
Brian Barrows, who caught six pythons, won the general competition, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Blake Russ of Fruitland Park and Florida Python Hunters teammate Devin Belliston won for corralling the longest python – an 11-foot, 1-inch-long snake in the permit holders competition.
“When you go out into the Everglades and see a snake this big out there it really feels like, (it's the) craziest thing seeing this thing, you almost don't believe it until you see it,” Belliston said.
Ramirez was initially named the winner in that category for a snake more than 10 feet long.
Meantime, Paul Shannon harvested the longest python in the general competition – one that was 14 feet and 3 inches long, the FWC said.
Hundreds of snake hunters signed up for the challenge, which ended Feb. 10. The purpose was to raise awareness about non-native pythons that don't belong in the Florida Everglades.
Sixty-eight pythons were harvested in all, organizers said.
The event, dubbed a success by wildlife officials, got worldwide attention – and now the winners are getting some attention of their own.
“We watched Steve Erwin, we watched Animal Planet, we watched Discovery, we watched these animal shows, and I always wanted to go to Southeast Asia and catch a Burmese python,” Russ said. “And now we’re able to do that here.”