‘A monster slithered in front of the truck.’ How amateurs got a giant python in Florida

·2 min read

Talk about your big boy.

On Wednesday, a college student with no snake-wrangling experience made quite the catch in Collier County.

Rollins student Joshua Laquis managed to wrangle a huge Burmese python, which was nearly 18 feet long. (OK, the incoming senior had some help, and the reptile was 17 feet, 10 inches long, but we’re giving props where they’re due).

The Winter Park man’s adventure began two days before the start of this year’s Florida Python Challenge, whose aim is to reduce the number of the invasive species in the Everglades. Unfortunately, due to the timing, Laquis and company were not eligible for a prize — just bragging rights.

Laquis told the Miami Herald he decided to track gigantic reptiles on a bit of a whim.

“I take part in a lot of extreme sports ... skydiving, paragliding, shark diving and cliff camping, so I was just looking for something exciting to do,” Laquis said. “Then the thought of a python hunt came up.”

After finding “two random guys” on Instagram — cousins Jake Waleri and Stephen Gauta, of Glades Boys Python Adventures — the 22-year-old business major and crew went to town.

After just a few hours into their hunt, the amateurs spotted the enormous snake crossing U.S. 41, outside of Ochopee, in Collier County.

“We didn’t have high expectations to catch anything too big,” Laquis said. “We were looking in the grass at the side of the road hoping to spot something, when a monster slithered right in front of the truck.”

Talk about extreme. The snake’s massive size shocked the intrepid trio.

“We all screamed,” Laquis said. “Something this big was unbelievable to see.”

The men wrestled the beast for roughly 10 minutes, but the snake, which they brought to authorities to measure, died in the struggle.

Had they encountered the fella during the challenge, which runs through Aug. 14, they would have likely received a hefty cash prize.

The largest Burmese python bagged? Two Florida men captured one that was 18 feet, 9 inches long, setting the state record in October 2020.