GATOR WEEK: Alligator vs Python
THE EVERGLADES , Fla. (WPMI) —
There is a deadly battle playing out in the Florida Everglades between pythons and alligators.
Unlike gators, pythons are not native to Florida.
They were first reported in the state in 2000.
They came as pets but ended up being released into the wild.
Now, pythons and gators are natural enemies.
A viewer submitted video shows a gator almost being killed by a python, until outdoorsman Mike Kimmel of Indiantown, Florida swooped in and saved the gator.
But, there are countless examples of deadly python gator fights on the internet.
Often, a python traps and consumes a gator only to have the gator bite his way free.
In the end, both die.
At a reptile preserve in Palm Beach County, Florida, we got a first-hand look at how pythons target gators.
A python would never try to tangle with a large male gator, but a female gator looking for a mate would be perfect prey.
A python will wrap itself around a gator and bite it again and again.
While they are not venomous, they are physically powerful.
Both animals have an arsenal of teeth to kill.
We traveled west of Homestead to the Rocky Glades where both gators and pythons thrive.
Our guide was Leo Sanchez, a power company employee by day and python hunter by night.
“I’ve caught plenty of pythons with gator bites on their bodies and their tails being stubbed tails that the gator hit with a bite,” he said.
Sanchez hunts in a minivan, looking for the snakes that can turn alligators into dinner.
“I went in and I caught a 6-foot python and a 10 1/2-foot python and I found a nest of like 50 eggs that had hatched,” Sanchez recounted about one of his favorite missions.
Florida’s python hunting program is a way for the state to help the gators.
Sanchez is one of 25 licensed participants.
In addition to an hourly wage, Sanchez makes $50 for each snake measuring up to 4 feet and an additional $25 for every extra foot.
And, $100 for a momma guarding eggs.
The python hunting program recently saw its 1,000 capture.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission decided to extend the program indefinitely to try and control the rapidly growing population.
Sanchez told us he thinks the program is working because now he sees many native creatures re-populating the area.
“I wouldn’t even see a rat when I started coming here and I started coming here about four years ago. Now I see deer, rats and rabbits.”