Python hunters begin scouring for snakes in Everglades

South Florida Water Management District hires 25 hunters to hunt pythons

FLORIDA EVERGLADES – The South Florida Water Management District has hired 25 people to hunt pythons in the Everglades.

Tom Rahill, from the Swamp Apes organization, has been catching pythons in the Florida Everglades for years. He has personally captured more than 400 of the invasive species, but now he is a paid professional python hunter.

"It is a whopping $8.10 an hour. The first 4 feet is $50. It's $25 for every additional foot," Rahill said.

Thanks to a $200,000 pilot program instituted by the South Florida Water Management District, Rahill and two dozen other hunters will scour the Everglades, hunting for Burmese pythons.

Local 10 News reporter Todd Tongen cruised by car and truck Thursday along the roadways in the southern district restricted land.

"Typically, a healthy python, when they come out, whatever environmental factors -- the rain, the temperature, the barometric pressure -- whatever the cause is, when you see a python coming out, it's very likely that all the other pythons in the area will be moving, as well," Rahill said.

Tongen and Rahill hiked through the marshy scrub and sawgrass to a hammock they hoped would have snakes.

Rahill said he knows when a python is near because they leave trails of their feces, or scat, or leave trails of their shedded skin.

"There's a glisten. The pythons have a sheen that come off of their skin," Rahill said.  

Tongen and Rahill didn't bag a snake, but officials are confident that under the right conditions the professional python hunters will snag a significant number of snakes, and hopefully, they will help lessen the harmful effect that pythons have on the environment in the Everglades.