WINTER PARK, Fla. – On the first day of the 2022 Python Challenge, News 6 spoke with a Rollins College student living in Winter Park who was able to wrangle up a nearly 18-foot-long Burmese python in Collier County.
The Python Challenge is an annual event in Florida aimed at bringing down the population of Burmese pythons — an invasive species with virtually no natural enemies in the Everglades and which have decimated native populations of mammals, birds and other reptiles.
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Joshua Laquis — a resident of Winter Park who enjoys extreme sports — said he went python-hunting in the Everglades to find something that “scares” him.
“Basically, what happened was I was supposed to go with somebody else to hunt a python the day before we went, and that didn’t end up working out,” Laquis said. “So I ended up finding these two random guys on Instagram that I heard were into python-hunting, as well.”
Laquis told News 6 he began hunting with the pair — Jake Waleri and Stephen Gauta from Glades Boys Python Adventures — that night, though they didn’t have much luck at first.
However, Laquis said the group soon found their target — a 17-foot, 10-inch-long python crossing the highway.
“We all screamed. We all hunted snakes before, but none of us have seen anything this size...” Laquis said. “Something this big was unbelievable to see.”
According to Laquis, the team wrestled for ten minutes to get control of the snake, which died as it was trying to constrict the three men.
While the three were able to bring the snake to authorities, Laquis said they found it just before the Python Challenge pronouncement, meaning they didn’t receive a reward.
Despite that, Laquis said his next adventure will be working on his sky-diving license, though he still a “couple more jumps to do” before he can make that happen.
The 2022 Python Challenge runs through 5 p.m. on Aug. 14. Prizes include a $2,500 for most pythons captured and $1,500 for the longest python captured. Snakes in the challenge must be killed humanely to qualify.
Laquis shares his adventures on his Instagram page under his profile at @Joshua.Laquis.
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