UPDATE: Sharp eyes in Vero Lake Estates leads to python’s capture

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A 9 1/2-foot-long Burmese python is on its way to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission thanks to a pair of sharp eyes in Vero Lake Estates.

Mary Rangel, a resident in the community, spotted the snake Tuesday night as it was slithering toward the nearby woods. She called authorities, who sent out Ilka Daniel and Bruce Crocker, of the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County and the Treasure Coast Herpetological Society, respectively. Daniel credited Rangel for the capture, noting that it was Rangel’s quick thinking to keep a flashlight trained on the snake that helped them wrangle it.

“They’re hard to find,” said Bruce Dangerfield, an animal control officer for the Vero Beach Police Department. The snakes’ coloring helps them to blend into the ground and shadowy areas.

He will be taking the snake to the FWC, where it will try to find a new, more appropriate home for the python.

This temporary Vero Lake Estates resident is not the first such reptile to be captured in Indian River County, Dangerfield said.

He can recall between 20 and 30 pythons caught over the last 25 years. Most recently, there was an 11-foot-long snake found at Pointe West, near Vero Beach.

“It’s part of living in Florida,” Dangerfield said.

Burmese pythons are more common to the Miami-Dade area, due to the proximity to the Everglades.

In recent years, the python population has exploded in the Everglades, causing disruption to native species, according to wildlife officials.

“Exotics compete for food and space,” Dangerfield said.

He added that this 9 1/2-foot python could

Officials believe the snake either escaped its home or had been released into the wild.

Burmese pythons are known for growing as long as 20 feet and weighing more than 250 pounds. Pythons are constrictors, which wrap their heavily muscled bodies around their prey and squeezing the life out of them.

Ilka Daniel, who picked up the python at the Humane Society, felt the power in the python Wednesday afternoon.

“He’s got my arm!” she said, while trying to peel the snake’s tail off her wrist. With Dangerfield’s help, the snake was put back in a blue bag where it rested until its trip to FWC.

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