The Everglades is famous for it beauty, but it has a serious problem: invasive giant snakes.

A wildlife technician holds a Burmese python. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Burmese pythons are one of the largest species of snake on Earth. They're normally native to southeast Asia, but accidental releases and irresponsible pet owners introduced them to Florida as well.


Pythons can grow up to nearly 20 feet long and are eating native mammals and birds — even alligators and mountain lions aren't safe. What's worse, the pythons have started to breed.

For years, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other local agencies and organizations have tried to keep the snakes contained. They've tried radio-tagging so-called Judas snakes to track down popular snake hangouts and hosting the annual Python Challenge for hunters.

Now Florida's trying out a new tactic: bringing in world-famous snake hunters from India.

Photo from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission/Facebook.

Masi Sadaiyan and Vadivel Gopal are part of the Irula tribe from India. The Irula live in Tamil Nadu, a state on the southern tip of India, and have been expert snake hunters for generations. They catch and milk cobras and other vipers, a vital step in producing life-saving anti-venom.

The University of Florida and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) brought the men to South Florida in early January to learn their secrets.

An Irula snake catcher in Chennai, India, in 2016. Photo from Arun Sankar/AFP/Getty Images.

As of this writing, Sadaiyan and Gopal have already caught 15 snakes, according to FWC.

They take a different approach than the typical biologist. Instead of focusing on sunny roads and levees — some of the snakes' favorite places to warm up — the men head for the thick brush, grass, and boulders. They're armed with only tire irons and use them to beat back tall grass while looking for subtle signs like tunnels, scat, or tracks in the sand. The biologists trail behind, accompanied by the men's two translators.

There was one point, reports the Miami Herald, where they spotted the tip of a tail sticking out from inside a vent in an old abandoned missile site. They followed the vent to find the other side, hoping to catch the snake if it escaped, only to find another different tail sticking out the other end. Over the next five hours, the men extracted four snakes, including a 16-foot-long female.

15 snakes are only a small fraction of the python population, but it's pretty great compared to other approaches.

Photo from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission/Facebook.

For comparison, about 1,000 hunters took part in last year's Python Challenge. After a month, they had only bagged 106 snakes. So two guys with tire irons catching 14 in two weeks is pretty great. But the point isn't just raw numbers, it's teaching biologists new ways to look for the snakes.

"Since the Irula have been so successful in their homeland at removing pythons, we are hoping they can teach people in Florida some of these skills," said FWC section leader Kristen Sommers.

An Irula snake hunter outside Chennai, India. Photo from Arun Sankar/AFP/Getty Images

The captured snakes are either euthanized or used for education. Sadaiyan and Gopel, for their part, seem to be having a good time.

"Coming to America is really fun and interesting, but catching all those snakes, that's why they're here," Sadaiyan said in the Miami Hearld. "They're hunters, and that's why they're here."

Sadaiyan and Gopal are expected to stay for a couple of months. So far they have been working in Key Largo and the Everglades, but they're expected to visit other areas of South Florida as well, says FWC.

Protecting the environment takes action.

Hopefully we'll continue our commitment to hard work, proactive thinking, and the protection of Florida's wild places.

True

It takes a special type of person to become a nurse. The job requires a combination of energy, empathy, clear mind, oftentimes a strong stomach, and a cheerful attitude. And while people typically think of nursing in a clinical setting, some nurses are driven to work with the people that feel forgotten by society.

Keep Reading Show less
via Pexels

The Emperor of the Seas.

Imagine retiring early and spending the rest of your life on a cruise ship visiting exotic locations, meeting interesting people and eating delectable food. It sounds fantastic, but surely it’s a billionaire’s fantasy, right?

Not according to Angelyn Burk, 53, and her husband Richard. They’re living their best life hopping from ship to ship for around $44 a night each. The Burks have called cruise ships their home since May 2021 and have no plans to go back to their lives as landlubbers. Angelyn took her first cruise in 1992 and it changed her goals in life forever.

“Our original plan was to stay in different countries for a month at a time and eventually retire to cruise ships as we got older,” Angelyn told 7 News. But a few years back, Angelyn crunched the numbers and realized they could start much sooner than expected.

Keep Reading Show less

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

True

The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

Keep Reading Show less

A burst of creativity and some serendipity changed the course of her life.

"If Found Please Read" author and creator Madison White started her writing career with 50 handwritten journals and a plan to sneak them into book stores across the nation. She saved about $2,000 from her waitressing job and decided to cross the country on a Greyhound bus on her self-proclaimed book tour. What she didn't realize was that her life would change before this adventure ever really started.

Keep Reading Show less

Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas teaches you how to pee.

A pelvic floor doctor from Boston, Massachusetts, has caused a stir by explaining that something we all thought was good for our health can cause real problems. In a video that has more than 5.8 million views on TikTok, Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas says we shouldn’t go pee “just in case.”

How could this be? The moment we all learned to control our bladders we were also taught to pee before going on a car trip, sitting down to watch a movie or playing sports.

The doctor posted the video as a response to TikTok user Sidneyraz, who made a video urging people to go to the bathroom whenever they get the chance. Sidneyraz is known for posting videos about things he didn’t learn until his 30s. "If you think to yourself, 'I don't have to go,' go." SidneyRaz says in the video. It sounds like common sense but evidently, he was totally wrong, just like the rest of humanity.

Keep Reading Show less