Whoever coined the silly internet term “nope rope” for snakes probably had a scenario very similar to this in mind.
An amateur Florida wildlife photographer travelling to Everglades National Park earlier this month was quite literally stopped in her tracks when she came across a massive Burmese python crossing the road.
Kymberly Strempack Clark shared a video of the encounter to her Instagram page, where the roughly 15-foot-long snake can be seen stretched out across the two-lane road.
“No, Siri, we don’t want to proceed to the route!” she captioned the Jan. 2 video, joking about how a navigation app encourages her to “proceed to the route” twice during the short clip.
Instead of navigating around the massive creature, however, Clark says she slammed on the brakes and got out of the car.
In the video, Clark and her friends can be seen circling the snake at a safe distance. One friend jokingly dares another to pick the snake up.
“He was a monster,” wrote Clark, whose Instagram feed is filled with photographs of Florida wildlife.
Burmese pythons, which are indigenous to southeast Asia, have been lurking in Florida’s Everglades region since 1979, according to the National Park Service. It’s believed they came to Florida via the exotic pet trade.
In that time, they’ve thrived in the area but are also considered one of the most destructive invasive species in South Florida, and have contributed to a steep decline in mammal populations.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation says they are one of the largest snakes in the world, averaging between six and nine feet in length. However, much larger have been spotted in Florida – in 2018 a hunter managed to trap and kill an 18-foot-long python.
And, more recently, reports ABC News, Florida biologists removed a five-foot alligator from the stomach of an 18-foot python caught in Everglades National Park.
The snakes are one of South Florida’s apex predators, meaning they have a host of animals to feast on and very few to worry about. At their disposal is a veritable buffet of birds, deer, alligators, cats and dogs.
Because of their destructive tendencies, the state has laws in place that say the animals must be humanely destroyed if captured.
Some people on Clark’s post questioned why she didn’t run the creature over, killing it while she had a chance.
Clark responded that the animal was so big, it could have damaged her vehicle or endangered the people in the car or other people on the road.
“A Python this large can swallow deer and alligators,” she wrote. “We weren’t even sure it was a Python at first. It’s really easy for everyone to judge me from the sidelines for not running this monster over. Also, technically, they must be killed humanely by law (gun shot to head). I am not even sure if highly qualified trappers could shoot a gun in the middle of Everglades National Park. I don’t even think they are permitted to use their dogs there.”
Instead, she said she pinned the location where the snake slithered off the road and reported the sighting to wildlife officials.