It was my intention in this Feechie of the Week to highlight the brave python hunters of the Florida Everglades. As you may know, huge non-native pythons abound in the Everglades; many of them apparently got there in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew destroyed a python breeder's facility and released untold numbers of snakes into the wild. Burmese pythons, as it turns out, love Florida as much as retirees love it. They have thrived there, multiplying and growing to fifteen feet and more. And like so many non-native species (including retirees), they've been wreaking havoc on the ecosystem. I've seen articles about a few of the fish and wildlife guys whose job is to hunt and kill the pythons in the Everglades. They're interesting people, and they may be featured yet. But then I remembered something I had seen on Abraham Piper's twentytwowords.com website, and the Florida python hunters, with their trucks and guns, paled by comparison. Picture this: an African rock python has been carrying off your livestock by night and slithering back down its hole. What are you going to do about it? You might get hold of these old boys:
Notice there's no truck or gun in this picture. These guys are old-school.
Pythons are constrictors, but they also have teeth. So our hero protects his left arm with an animal hide like so:
And then he heads down the python's hole. No, literally...he heads down the hole. He's got his animal-hide snake guard on his left hand, a torch in his right, and that's about it.
These next pictures--the ones taken down the hole--bring up a few questions. Questions like, "Who took these pictures?" I don't care. I prefer to marvel at the pure feechieness of the moment rather than get hung up on the technicalities. Our man's fire gives him light to see and confuses the snake.
The snake, confused though she may be, has wits enough to know she's in for a fight. The snake catcher waves his left arm (the one with the hide protector) in front of the snakes face, and she lunges for it. I guess that's a clutch of eggs she's wrapped around.
(I know what you're thinking: isn't it the camera person we should be admiring here rather than the snake catcher? Please don't be cynical. It's unbecoming.)
Once the snake has latched on to the catcher's left arm, he grabs her throat with his right hand.
I'm thinking one of the key principles in this method of snake-catching is "Once you've grabbed aholt, you got to keep aholt." The only thing worse than holding onto that snake, I should think, would be letting go of it.
The snake catcher emerges triumphant from the snake hole.
And he and his buddies return to the village, buoyed by the knowledge that they have truly and genuinely earned the honor of Feechies of the Week. And hearty congratulations and felicitations to them.
P.S. Can you believe how much our hero looks like an African Merle Haggard in that picture?