I watched a few episodes of a YouTube channel called Python Cowboy. This guy, who goes by the name “Trapper Mike,” wanders around in the wilds of Florida and catches pythons bare handed. Sometimes he searches islands in the Everglades for them, but mostly he drives his truck along remote swamp roads and finds them just lying around.
What impresses me most about Trapper Mike is the fact he is not much bigger round than the pythons he wrestles. He doesn’t look like he could whip a garter snake, much less a python. But whip them he does. I watched in awe as he wrestled a seventeen foot, one hundred fifty pounder with nothing but two hands and a death-wish. At one point the enraged constrictor bit him on the arm. Trapper Mike was afraid it struck an artery. A rational man (me) would have let the damn thing go and hightailed it out of there. But not Trapper Mike. He kept on wrestling. Any moment I expected the snake to wrap him up and squeeze him into oblivion, but that didn’t happen. Trapper Mike got the upper hand and another invasive specimen was removed from the Everglades.
It turns out that Trapper Mike doesn’t chase after pythons just to make videos. The State of Florida pays him. According to a website on the subject:
“An hourly rate ($10.00 per hour or $15.00 per hour depending on the area) for up to ten (10) hours each day while actively searching for pythons on designated lands. An additional incentive payment of $50.00 for each python measuring up to four (4) feet plus an extra $25.00 for each foot measured above four (4) feet.”
In addition to the pay, he gets to keep the python and sell it for parts.
As a retirement side hustle, I have decided to put together my own giant python capture team. Fault me for nepotism if you will, but I have assigned my wife, Marianne, to the position of Lead Python Wrangler or LPW as we call it in the business. Her job is to subdue the python and drag it out of the woods.
I, on the other hand, will man the vitally important position of In-Car Coordinator (ICC). As the ICC my job is to spot the snake then deploy the LPW. Once deployed, the LPW wrestles the snake into submission while I remain in the car and provide the LPW advice and instruction during the capture process.
I imagine a typical capture would go like this:
We spot a snake while driving along an Everglades road.
The LPW is deployed. This make take some fancy leg work on the part of the ICC in order to physically shove the LPW out of the car.
Once outside the vehicle, the passenger door is pulled shut and locked by the ICC. This is purely a preventative measure in the event the LPW decides to mutiny and return to the car.
The LPW approaches the snake all the while directing some rather unladylike terms and phrases at the ICC. The ICC makes a mental note to possibly bring the LPW up on charges of insubordination later and perhaps expel her from the capture team, but for now they have a python to catch.
The ICC cracks the driver’s side window a couple of inches and shouts: “Grab it by the head.”
The ICC rolls the window up, thus muffling the LPW’s response and saving the ICC from possible emotional damage as a result of the litany of insensitive comments directed at him.
As the wrestling progresses, the ICC rolls the window down a crack and shouts: “Man up. It is only a snake bite.”
The ICC rolls the window up and adjusts the air conditioner. It is, after all, sweltering outside. Besides, the roar of the air conditioner helps drown out the shrieks and expletives (many of which are interspersed with the ICC’s name) exploding from the LPW.
Monitoring the snake versus ICC match closely, the ICC cracks the window once again and shouts: “Don’t let it coil around you like that.”
Rather than be thankful for the insight, the LPW makes a few unprofessional comments about the ICC’s manhood which brings up further thoughts of insubordination charges and also goes to show how difficult it is to get good help these days.
The process continues until the snake is caught or the legs of the LPW are protruding from its mouth.
In the event of the former, the snake is “humanely euthanized” by which those in the python wrangling business mean someone shoots it in the head with a pellet gun.
The snake carcass is taken to the Florida Wildlife folks where it is measured and its stomach is cut open and examined as if dealing with dead, nasty python isn’t already disgusting enough.
The python capture team collects their paycheck.
Most of the money is earmarked for divorce lawyers.
That last line is great. If the ICC and LPW have made it this long, then you’re probably in the clear though I wouldn’t go pushing your luck by trying to catch crocodiles or something.