A 10-foot Burmese python was found curled up under the hood of a car brought in to an auto repair shop in Florida by the vehicle’s owner.
Gerard Doffay, who was in the building next door and helped wrangle the creature, said its girth was around seven inches and that it took four people to get it into a bag. “It was a big snake,” he told WSVN.
Workers at the auto repair shop contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) after opening the hood of the Ford Mustang and seeing the snake by the car’s engine. The FWC posted a picture of the snake on its Facebook page, saying officers arrived quickly at the scene and managed to capture and remove the 10-foot creature.
The person who found the snake had opened the hood to check the engine light. They then ran to Doffay for help. “I thought, ‘OK, I’ll go and help them,'” Doffay told WSVN. “I’ll yank it out from under the hood of their car. I wasn’t expecting that python underneath the hood of the car.”
Doffay described the struggle to capture the snake, saying one of the officers had to grab it by the back of its head. “He started pulling it towards him, and I saw an opportunity to help and get it out from underneath the sway bar, so we grabbed it out. By that time, it was around his hands. I had to help pull his hands out from inside the coils, and we tried putting it in the bag three or four times. Eventually, it took four people.”
It is thought the snake crawled into the car after it got left outside the auto repair shop overnight. Doffay said he believes Burmese pythons are becoming more prevalent in the area, and he would not be surprised if there is a rise in the number of pet cats and dogs going missing. “They’re obviously getting closer,” he said of the snakes.
Burmese pythons are an invasive species in Florida. They are generally found around southern parts of the state, with the Everglades being a key ecosystem for them. It is thought they were introduced to the region in the 1990s, having been dispersed—at least in part—by Hurricane Andrew, which hit in 1992. During the storm, a breeding facility housing thousands of Burmese pythons was destroyed, allowing these snakes to escape.
After invading the region, the pythons quickly established a strong presence because of the suitable habitat and abundance of prey. Since their arrival, native populations of some animals have plummeted, impacting ecosystems across their now 1,000-square-mile range.
An eradication program was introduced in 2017 in a bid to tackle the problem species, although the U.S. Geological Survey said the chance of their complete removal is low.
The FWC removed the python in the car, after which it would have been euthanized, as per the organization’s recommendations. “This is a success for native wildlife since pythons prey on native birds, mammals and reptiles,” the FWC said in its Facebook post. “Thanks to the citizen who reported the python to us. We rely on reports from the public to help us quickly respond and remove these species.”