In the rough and tumble world of the Everglades, state-sanctioned python hunters are bagging snakes for the sake of science.
However, after handing the snakes over to research labs, some hunters take them to leather goods experts to make money.
"I really enjoy it. I love being outdoors, I love the Everglades," said hunter Leonardo Sanchez.
At Exotic Leather Fashion in Hollywood, co-owner Brian Wood said the latest “Python Challenge” is a win-win for his business.
"The snakes have become a problem because they're invasive," said Wood. "It just seemed natural for us to go ahead and start buying the snakes from the hunters and utilizing them in our fashions."
Typically, once hunters take their pythons to the University of Florida’s lab in Davie for a necropsy, the snakes are then frozen.
Sanchez collected the 9-foot python he killed from the lab and brought it to Exotic Leather Fashions to be skinned and preserved. Wood said skins are then taken to an outside facility to be tanned.
"This is natural tanned into leather," said Wood, pointing to an already-tanned swatch of natural black-and-white python skin.
Wood says the skins are then cut and transformed at the shop by expert exotic-goods designers. Purses, wallets, boots, and belts are displayed in natural colors as well as dyed versions in brilliant pinks and greens.
Wallets can start at $160, while jackets can be as expensive as $4,200.
Hunters like Sanchez said they can make some money, too: Up to $150 per snake. Sanchez said he's happy to contribute to fashion for the sake of ridding the Everglades of an invasive species.
"That they're in your back yard about to eat your pets or your children -- it hasn't gotten to that yet. But they're out there. There's a lot of them out there," said Sanchez.
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