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'Exotic Invaders: Pythons in the Everglades' premieres at OCinema

As real-life monsters invade Everglades, filmmaker raises awareness

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(STEPHEN M. SECOR/SCIENCE/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

FLORIDA CITY, Fla. – When University of Florida researchers caught a female Burmese python that measured 18 feet and three inches in length, a photo of five people holding the 133-pound beast was shared worldwide on social media earlier this year.

Images of Burmese pythons trying to swallow constricted American alligators at the Florida Everglades National Park have gone viral on Twitter before. There is a fascination with the beast.

Miami filmmaker Oscar Corral talked to scientists using micro-chips to track the pythons, obsessed breeders and the adrenaline junkies who hunt them. Corral spoke to Jason Leon, a 23-year-old man who had an encounter with a giant python.

"Leon, an amateur herpetologist and reptile enthusiast who enjoys snorkeling with alligators, jumped off his ATV, grabbed the python by the back of the head and started wrestling," the filmmaker said.

Corral said it took Leon about 15 minutes to behead the serpent and drop it on the road. This and other stories will be part of Corral's "Exotic Invaders: Pythons in the Everglades." His film premieres Thursday at O'Cinema, 500 71 St., in Miami Beach.

Bobcats, white-tailed deer, opossums, racoons, rabbits and foxes are in the list of mammals on the menu for the hundreds of snakes living in the vast wetlands. Corral said he learned that as much as 98 percent of native animal populations have declined.

After blaming the phenomenon on the pet industry, Florida banned the adaptable pet pythons in 2010. But scientists fear that their population continues to grow and its impact is yet to be determined.

The Python Invasion Project

Follow Local10.com Reporter Andrea Torres on Twitter @MiamiCrime